Covishield will cause only minor side effects: PM

“To take the vaccine or not is voluntarily”

Addressing a live audience on the Prime Minister’s Office Facebook page, PM Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering shared that once a person has been vaccinated by the Covishield or Oxford-Astrazeneca he/she will experience only mild or minor side effects.

Lyonchen said the Covishield has undergone all the three phases of the clinical trials and no major side effects were seen on those vaccinated by it. “If this vaccine had major side effects then it would not have been given the emergency approval for human trials.”

Lyonchhen said there are some 12 vaccine preventable from diseases today and these vaccines despite being effective do have some side effects. “Although, the immune protection differs from one vaccine to another, Covishield did not display any life threatening side effects; therefore it received the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).”

“Through this vaccine, average protection will be around 70% for our immune system,” said Lyonchhen said, adding that when one experience dizziness, low fever, little swelling and redness at the vaccinated place, it is bound to happen because the body is reacting to the vaccine and this is something expected after getting the vaccine. “When one is vaccinated there is an antigen-antibody reaction which is a good sign.”

Lyonchhen said the antigen in the vaccine triggers the immune system to produce antibody. “The antigen-antibody reaction leads to swelling on the vaccinated place which is something to be expected and not to worry.”

Lyonchhen said that His Majesty has commanded the team to study the efficacy of the vaccine carefully and how it would benefit everyone. “The government would protect the public from the pandemic and treat the infected ones; the government will also take full accountability if there is any sort of mishaps after the vaccination including side effects.”

“To take the vaccine or not is voluntarily,” he said, adding that if there is negligence from the healthcare professionals which leads to some issues then there are guidelines and regulations to deal with this kind of situations.

PM explained that like any other vaccines, Covishield could work in two ways; either the vaccine could provide one with total protection against the infection or help in keeping individuals from developing serious conditions following the infection. Lyonchhen said not all the people who receive the jab will be getting full protection against the infection, but at least 50% of the recipients would.

The second type of reaction that would develop is that vaccinated recipients could get still infected but they would not develop any symptoms. “When one gets vaccinated he/she will not know about the disease symptoms but when RT-PCR is done they will come out positive,” Lyonchhen added.

In an earlier press briefing, Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said COVID-19 vaccine is only for preventing the COVID-19- the first dose will prevent  chances of contracting the virus by 60% and the second dose will prevent around 70-90% from getting the virus.

“COVID-19 recovered patients are advised to take the vaccine as well to prevent from re-infection,” added Lyonpo.

According to BBC, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus known as an adenovirus from chimpanzees. When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection. It is given in two doses between four to 12 weeks apart.

International clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed that when people were given a half dose and then full dose, effectiveness hits 90%. However, leaving a longer gap between the first and second doses increases the overall effectiveness to 70% after the first dose.

Clinical microbiologist at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital and member of the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, Dr Tshokey shared that Covishield is 70-90% effective against COVID-19 and Pfizer vaccines (not yet in the country) have a reported efficacy of 95%. “COVID-19 recovered patients are also advised to take the vaccine since the benefits may outweigh harm and it would serve as a booster for them.”

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu