Fact check: Is India's COVID-19 vaccine actually ready, as claimed on social media?


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Fact check: Is India's COVID-19 vaccine actually ready, as claimed on social media?

Fact check: Is India's COVID-19 vaccine actually ready, as claimed on social media?
There's a lot of buzz surrounding COVID-19 vaccine development, globally.
According to the WHO, there are over 45 independent medical groups which are in contention to roll out a novel coronavirus vaccine at the earliest timeframe. At least 3 vaccine candidates are in critical stages of development and testing in India, which will pave way for faster access to an approved vaccine in the coming year.

A lot of companies which have applied for emergency authorisation plans, with strategic roll-out for global distribution being charted out.
However, according to a new claim circulating on social media, India already has secured access to a ready COVID-19 vaccine. Have you come across this claim on the internet yet?

A new claim doing rounds on social media suggests that India already has a 'Corona' vaccine available and all the public has to do to get vaccinated is download an app, register their number and proceed with the vaccination.

The message has also been widely circulated on Whatsapp and Facebook, with a link which users have to click.

But, it is any true?

Do we have a COVID-19 vaccine ready yet?

As with anything we read on the internet, any news related to COVID-19 needs to be read with caution.

Not only is crucial work still going on development of a COVID-19 vaccine, there still is no definite day or date that we have been given as to when would a vaccine be made available for the public.

For one, vaccine development takes along to work out. While most promising candidates are in crucial stages of development, it will take a long while before a vaccine which is approved for use is rolled out for the billions at risk.

India is seeing accelerated work happening on four vaccine candidates. While Bharat Biotech-ICMR backed COVAXIN is in phase III and will apply for further approvals by February 2021, another homegrown vaccine, ZyCOV-D, developed by Ahmedabad based Zydus Cadila is only preparing to enrol participants for phase III trials. No plans for a release, as of right now have been revealed as of yet.

The other two vaccines in contention, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (Covishield) will only be made available by the first quarter of 2021. It is yet to wrap up phase III trials. Russia's Sputnik V, which will be marketed and sold in India is waiting for authorisation to begin phase II/III trials, post which, approvals shall be met with.

As for the other global vaccines being worked on right now, authorities are figuring out a way to secure doses for India, which again, will take time to work out.

Secondly, as per epidemiologists and medical authorities, fine-tuning a vaccination plan for Indian public can take upwards of a year to work. We can expect effective vaccination to happen only by 2022.

As for the emergency doses which are being readied for administration, the first priority will be given to healthcare workers across India and the public, for which, authorities are preparing phased roll-out.

Elsewhere, a vaccination drive which will secure the high-risk, immuno-compromised people will take precedence. Hence, there are no plans as of yet to inoculate masses, including healthy people against COVID-19 right now.

The same rumour was also quashed by Indian authorities recently.

As for preventing and stopping the spread of novel coronavirus, the only real 'vaccine' we have in front of us right now is sanitization and social distancing measures. Wash your hands frequently, maintain a six-feet distance, disinfect frequently touched surfaces and most importantly, wear a mask which will stop COVID-19 spread.
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