India

"Can One Catch COVID-19 From Vaccine?": Health Minister Tackles Myths

India will start its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Saturday.

New Delhi:

Ahead of the COVID-19 vaccination drive that starts Saturday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took to Twitter on Thursday, to dispel doubts about the vaccines.

Posting a series of graphics on Twitter, the minister addressed fears like the vaccine causing infertility or spreading the coronavirus infection.

"There is no scientific evidence to suggest that #COVIDVaccine could cause infertility in either men or women. Kindly do not pay heed to such rumours or information from unverified sources," he said in one tweet.

"You cannot contract #COVID19 because you have been inoculated with a #COVID19Vaccine Temporary side effects such as mild fever should not be confused as having contracted #COVID," the minister said in another.

The government on Saturday will launch what it says is the world's biggest vaccination programme with shots manufactured in India - one developed by Oxford University and pharma giant AstraZeneca, the other by Bharat Biotech International and India's top clinical research body.

Authorities will treat the domestic COVID-19 vaccine "equally" with the prominent global one, even though the homegrown drug's efficacy has not been proven, and people will have no choice which they one they get, government officers have hinted.

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Administering Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, a move cheered by politicians has worried some health experts who consider it rushed, as the vaccine has only limited, "clinical-trial mode" approval and has not completed Phase 3 trials when its efficacy is measured.

Experts at India's drug regulator this month recommended stricter monitoring for Covaxin, as is done during clinical trials, especially if cases of infection by mutant strains of the virus spread fast. At the same time, the government wants to inoculate as many people as possible as demand for vaccines outstrips supply.

Health advocacy groups, watchdogs and opposition politicians have questioned the vaccine's approval, which came just a day after the authorities asked Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech for more evidence it would work.

(With inputs from agencies)