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Covishield vs Covaxin vs Covid-19: everything you need to know


India’s Comptroller General of Drugs on Sunday gave final approval to two Covid-19 vaccines for emergency restricted use. With this, the vaccination campaign in India can be expected to start soon. All states and territories in the union have already conducted a vaccine trial. With more than one vaccine now approved for emergency use, the scope of India’s first phase of vaccination in which front-line workers will be vaccinated at no cost is expanded.

This is everything you need to know about these two vaccines:

Developers and Manufacturers

Covishield has been developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with leading pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca. The Serum Institute of India is your manufacturing and testing partner.

Covaxin is India’s first indigenous vaccine against Covid-19. It has been developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council for Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology.

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How Vaccines Have Been Developed

Covishield uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material for the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, which prepares the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.

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Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine. An inactivated vaccine is one that is developed by inactivating (killing) the live microorganisms that cause the disease. This destroys the pathogen’s ability to replicate, but keeps it intact so the immune system can still recognize it and produce an immune response. There are many inactivated vaccines against hepatitis A, influenza, polio and rabies, which offer “excellent protection”, said Bharat Biotech.

Trial and efficacy

The Serum Institute of India presented data from a phase 1 clinical trial conducted with 23,745 overseas participants showing an overall result of 70.42 percent efficacy, the drug controller said. In phase two and three, which were carried out in India, 1,600 participants participated and the results were comparable to those of the first phase of the trial, said the drug controller.

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Bharat Biotech conducted phase one and two trials with 800 participants, in addition to several animal trials. Its third trial is underway and a total of 22,500 participants have already participated. The vaccine has been found to be effective and safe, the drug controller said.


India’s frontline workers will receive the vaccine at no cost, according to the Union’s health minister, Harsh Vardhan. Therefore, the cost angle will come at a later stage of vaccination and also for other countries, as several countries have shown interest in both candidate vaccines. Covishield will cost around 400 rupees, Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla previously said. The Bharat Biotech vaccine is likely to cost less than Rs 100. But a final word on cost has yet to be made.

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