The sudden uprise of COVID-19 cases in India and the second wave of coronavirus have left people in trauma. There’s chaos everywhere, even the word chaos could be an understatement to what’s happening in the world and especially in India. With the healthcare system failing every day to meet the demand needs, the government’s decree to vaccinate all the adults from the age 18 to 45 from the 1st of May is a great ray of hope and a sigh of relief to the common public.
Covaxin and Covishield are the two vaccines currently available and used to vaccinate people of the country. Covaxin is produced by Bharat Biotech and the Covishield is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. The two vaccines with the same purpose have contrasting time intervals for taking different doses. The first and the Second doses of Covaxin can be taken 4 weeks apart and the Government’s recommendation Covishield can be taken within an interval of 4 to 8 weeks apart from the first dosage.
After phase 3 clinical trials, it is confirmed with prior results that Covaxin’s efficiency against the virus is 78% with Bharath Biotech claiming that the vaccine would be 100% efficient in severe conditions and Covishield is also offering 100% protection. But all these numbers are studied only after the proper two doses within the prescribed period.
After the verdict of the government to vaccinate all adults from the age of 18 in a hugely populated country like India, it’s always a worry and a huge question if our production capacity will meet the demand. Will there be a shortage of vaccines in the coming days? Will we miss the second dose due to shortage? What if we miss the second shot of the vaccine due to shortage or any other reasons?
To answer such questions, we got all your doubts answered by the experts themselves.
Renowned virologist Dr. Jacob John said that if we miss the second dose of the vaccine, “You are not protected against the virus, you can be exposed to the virus, infected and the situation can also be severe.”
Explaining further about the scenario, Jacob mentioned, “The first dose of the vaccine will boost immunity only in a few people and in most of the cases, it only does priming.” In simple words, priming works to improve immunity but its power reduces with every movement in our body. So, it is important to take the second dose within the prescribed time, which boosts immunity. With both priming and immune boost, you are now totally protected against the novel coronavirus. This is generally called the priming technique where partial immunity will wane over time unless boosted. So if you miss the second dose, then you will remain vulnerable because you have only primed.”
However, studies suggest that priming is not forgotten by our body soon. Immunological memory will remember priming up to a year and the second dose can be delayed till then. Dr. John also said that “However, the case need not be similar. We do not have sufficient evidence and studies that prove that we can delay the dosage for a year.” I would recommend that if you delayed the dosage for a year, forget the first dose and take the two courses again to be fully sure.”
Apart from Dr. Jacob, here’s what a few medical experts have to say about the first and the second doses:-
Dr. Aju Mathew quoted that “Since it’s just the start of using this vaccine, there is no clear data and evidence that proves how well immunity boosts after a particular dose. Moving back in time, previous human experience with viruses and vaccines prove that one dose itself was enough to protect us but that’s just the past. Don’t risk yourself, move ahead and just take the two shots!” He further believes that the second dose will help boost the performance of the first one too.
Dr. Roshan Radhakrishnan adding to Aju Mathew’s point informed that “First shot of vaccine can reduce the risk of infection maybe by some 70% while taking the second dose can reduce the risk to 90% or more. The studies till now, demonstrate that you still have some immunity from the first dose if your second shot is delayed. However, it takes much more practice, studies, and tests to prove this effectively.”
Dr. KP Aravindan stated that “Since it’s clear that you can take Covishield up to 12 weeks from the first dose, you can do ahead and take it undoubtedly. But, somehow if you miss the time period, there’s no harm caused. It’s just that we don’t have enough data yet to say the effectiveness of the first dose but in no way one-shot will harm you.”