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WHO confirms existence of fake Covishield vaccines in India

Serum Institute of Indi’s (SII) chairperson Cyrus Poonawalla has said that a third shot or a ‘booster dose’ of COVID-19 vaccine is desirable six months after taking the second dose of the vaccine. This is especially a “must” for those with weak immune systems, news agency PTI reported.

SII makes India’s primary COVID-19 vaccine, locally known as Covishield.

Poonawalla also revealed that he, along with 7,000 employees of SII, have already taken the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure.

“After six months, the antibodies go down and that is why I have taken the third dose. We have given the third dose to our seven to eight thousand SII employees. For those who have completed the second dose, it is my request to take a booster dose (third dose) after six months,” Poonawalla said.

This development comes a week after the government of the United States (US) approved the third/booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.

Now, Pfizer and BioNTech have also submitted preliminary clinical data — evaluating the safety and efficacy of a third shot — to US health authorities to seek authorisation for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans and not just the ones with weakened immune systems.

“The data we’ve seen to date suggest a third dose of our vaccine elicits antibody levels that significantly exceed those seen after the two-dose primary schedule,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairperson and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The menace of fake vaccine vials continues
Another major issue that has been surrounding the Indian vaccination drive has been the administration or availability of fake COVID-19 vaccines in India.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified counterfeit versions of Covishield in India and Africa. As per the BBC report, the doses were seized by authorities in India and Africa between July and August. Even vaccine maker Serum Institute of India has confirmed, to WHO, that the vaccine was fake.

Multiple media reports, published in the past months, have also highlighted the existence of a vaccine scam in India under which victims were given saline water in lieu of the COVID-19 vaccine. Health minister of Maharashtra Rajesh Tope also confirmed the scam, and ensured that the victims would undergo antibody tests and will be administered with two doses of Covishield vaccine.

Covishield is the local name of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and has been administered to more than 48.6 crore Indians, as per government data, as of August 17, 2021. Business Insider

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