Earlier, he announced in a tweet: “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” he tweeted.(Sant Arora/HT)
Earlier, he announced in a tweet: “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” he tweeted.(Sant Arora/HT)

Haryana minister tests positive for Covid-19

Vij’s illness and participation in the trial for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin triggered confusion over the vaccine, prompting the company to clarify that the shot is meant to be protective only two weeks after the second dose – which itself is given after a gap of 28 days following the first dose.
By Anonna Dutt | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON DEC 06, 2020 03:38 AM IST

Haryana’s health minister Anil Vij announced on Saturday that he tested positive for Covid-19, a little over two weeks after he joined a trial for a vaccine and was administered the first of two shots, which may or not have been the actual inoculation.

Vij’s illness and participation in the trial for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin triggered confusion over the vaccine, prompting the company to clarify that the shot is meant to be protective only two weeks after the second dose – which itself is given after a gap of 28 days following the first dose. Later, the minister himself addressed the concerns.

“I was told that antibodies start to develop after the second dose, which is administered after 28 days of getting the first shot. And full antibodies are developed 14 days after the second dose is given. So, the complete cycle takes 42 days. In between there is no protection,” Vij said over a phone call to news agency PTI.

Earlier, he announced in a tweet: “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” he tweeted.

Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine developed by the Indian vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech in collaboration with government’s National Institute of Virology. It uses an inactivated virus to elicit an immune response in people.

The vaccine is at present in phase III trials, with over 25,000 volunteers. According to Bharat Biotech’s trial registry, half of these people will be given a placebo and the other half the vaccine. The trial is a double-blind, randomised experiment – meaning it neither Vij nor the officials would be aware of whether what he was given was indeed the vaccine.

He technically has a 50% chance he got the inoculation.

“It is a double-blind trail (meaning, neither the recipient nor the researchers know who is given a vaccine and who is given a placebo). Such trials have very rigorous protocol for unblinding,” a Union health ministry official said, asking not to be named.

This person too said even if Vij indeed was a recipient of the inoculation, it is unlikely to offer protection unless he gets the requisite booster dose and a gap of two weeks after that.

The vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech reiterated the same in a statement.

Experts said he is most likely to have contracted the infection naturally by coming in contact with a positive person. “First, we do not know whether he got the vaccine or the placebo dose. Second, he did not get both the doses of the vaccine after which the body produces an immune response. Third, no vaccine is 100% effective,” said Dr Puneet Mishra, professor of community medicine and one of the investigators of the vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

“Infections are likely to be reported in both the vaccine and placebo arm of a trial. No vaccine is a 100% effective and the difference in the incidence of the infection in both the arms tells us the efficacy of the vaccine. Even Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are about 95% effective. There are predefined protocols for unblinding a trial. One, it is done if there is a serious adverse event and the investigators need to see whether it is caused by the vaccine candidate. Even then it is done under the guidance of data safety monitoring board. Two, it is unblinded for interim analysis when there have been a certain predefined number of infections,” said Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, a Delhi-based vaccinologist and public health specialist.

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