With crores of Indians having been vaccinated against COVID, the two major vaccines Covaxin and Covishield are available for citizens across the country. Both vaccines have been granted use authorization by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in India, as Covaxin® (Bharat Biotech Limited) and Covishield® (AstraZeneca's vaccine by Serum Institute of India). While the Covaxin vs Covishield choice will remain with the individual, both vaccines are effective against COVID. They are both compliant with WHO standards, and can be used for effective protection against the coronavirus.
Development of Covaxin and Covishield
The vaccine Covaxin has been developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd in association with the National Institute of Virology (NIV) - Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It is a whole-virion inactivated coronavirus vaccine that is also used to develop vaccines for influenza, rabies, and Hep-A.
The Covishield COVID vaccine is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and is a viral vector based vaccine that is also used to develop the Ebola vaccine. Covishield is based on the same patent technology as the Astrazeneca vaccine.
Composition of Covaxin and covishield
Both vaccines have a high efficacy rate to protect against COVID 19 and its mutant variants. Both Covaxin and Covishield are effective against the virus, and can protect people of all ages. They differ in composition in the following way -
The composition of Covaxin includes inactivated Coronavirus, Aluminium Hydroxide Gel, TLR 7/8 Agonist, 2-Phenoxyethanol and Phosphate Buffered Saline [NKA1] .
The composition of Covishield includes inactivated adenovirus with segments of Coronavirus, Aluminium Hydroxide Gel, L-Histidine, L-Histidine Hydrochloride Monohydrate, Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate, Polysorbate 80, Ethanol, Sucrose, Sodium Chloride, and Disodium Edetate Dihydrate (EDTA).
Price differences between Covaxin vs Covishield
Covaxin is the costlier option at around INR 1410, with Covishield being available at around INR 780 per dose. While price is an option of comparison when considering which vaccine to opt for, it is best to go for what is immediately available to you near your area. If you haven't gotten your second COVID vaccination dose, then it is best to select either option.
Key attributes of Covaxin and Covishield
We can also compare both the vaccines through their key attributes.
- Covaxin is included with immune-potentiators, or vaccine adjuvants, that are added to boost immunogenicity.
- The two doses vaccine can be given around 28 days apart from each other, making it a shorter timeframe for complete vaccination.
- The vaccine uses an inactive viral strain that drafts an immune response in the body.
For Covishield -
- Covishield is prepared using viral vector platforms with the chimpanzee adenovirus – ChAdOx1 – being modified to carry a COVID-19 spike protein. This teaches the immune system to prepare a response mechanism against the virus.
- The two dose vaccine can be given between 6-8 weeks apart from each other, thereby strengthening the immunity of the individual further.
Both Covaxin and Covishield are similar in that they are manufactured using the inactive/modified versions of the virus. Both vaccines require 0.5ml dosage in the upper arm region for all individuals.
For Covaxin there are lesser symptoms recorded, as per experts, which is why it is the preferred vaccine for those that are susceptible to severe reactions or allergies. Some experts also believe the longer duration between dosages of Covishield to provide a stronger immune response and protection against COVID. The mutant strains of the virus are said to be protected against in the case of Covaxin vaccine with greater efficacy.
Expected short-term and long-term side effects of the vaccines
You can also compare the side effects of the vaccines to understand which vaccine is the one for you. While it is best to get the second dose immediately, you can also check which vaccine is available and preferable based on the side effects.
Potential side effects of Covaxin
Some people may experience pain at the injection site, headaches, fatigue, fever, body ache, and abdominal pain. Individuals can also experience nausea, vomiting, sweating, cold, and cough. These symptoms are to be monitored for several days after the dose.
Potential side effects of Covishield
People can experience symptoms such as tenderness, soreness, pain in the upper arm, headache, fatigue, and nausea. You may also feel myalgia, malaise, pyrexia, chills and arthralgia. It is important to visit a specialist if the symptoms are not stopping even with medication.
When should you not take the vaccine?
While it is important to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, there are cases wherein someone should wait to get the vaccine. There are contraindications for use for those people that have experienced an allergic reaction related to certain drugs, especially if complications with previous doses have been experienced.
Certain people with monoclonal antibodies or those undergoing plasma therapy may also be not suited for the vaccine. People with lower platelets or those that are on steroidal treatment should also speak to their doctor prior to getting the vaccine. In some cases if you have just tested negative for COVID after testing positive, then you may have to wait for some time before getting the second dose.
Do I need to test for COVID after second dose of vaccine?
Yes, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID 19 then you should get tested regardless of whether you have taken Covaxin or Covishield. You can find the best COVID RT PCR Test and get a comprehensive check done of your COVID status. This is increasingly important if you have been exposed to the virus and you need to inform others.
Additionally, those who have gone through the virus can also get tested for antibodies within the body. The COVID antibody test can provide insight into the presence of antibodies against COVID and can be a strong indicator for post infection and post vaccine status check.
Summing up the differences between Covishield and Covaxin
To sum up, while there are differences in symptoms, efficacy, and price, you can take any vaccine and protect yourself from the virus. It is also important to follow up with a specialist if you are continuing to experience symptoms or are testing positive frequently. Either Covishield or Covaxin is a good option to go for especially as you get your second dose and booster vaccine. You should also continue to wear a mask and avoid large social gatherings even after you have taken both doses of the vaccine.