Haryana minister tests positive for Covid-19
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.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- The state received its first consignment of Covaxin doses on Friday. Earlier Bengal had received two consignments of Covishield vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
- The Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) claimed there was duplication in names of its HCWs generated through the portal on Thursday.
- The ECI’s full bench comprising the CEC and election commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar were in West Bengal on a two-day visit to take stock of the poll preparedness and law and order situation ahead of the crucial assembly polls scheduled to be held this year.
- Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the Centre of resorting to arm-twisting tactics to "intimidate" all those who were supporting the farmers' agitation. Alleging that an FIR was lodged against Manjinder Singh Sirsa as he was providing langar service and other humanitarian aid to the farmers' agitation.
- A person who had returned from the UK two weeks back in north Kerala’s Kannur has been detected with the modified strain of the virus. With this, the total number of modified virus cases has gone up to 10 in the state.
- As per a statement issued by the Indian Navy, the theme of the tableau for the 2021 Republic Day Parade is titled 'Indian Navy Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive'. The forward section of the tableau will showcase the attack on Karachi harbour by missile boats.