India’s homegrown vaccine developer warns some to avoid shot

NEW DELHI (AP) - India's local coronavirus vaccine developer Bharat Biotech warned people with weak immunity and other illnesses such as allergies, fever or bleeding disorders to consult a doctor before the shot - and to avoid the vaccine if possible.
The company said those who receive vaccinations should disclose their health, the medications they are taking, and any history of allergies. It is said that severe allergic reactions in vaccine recipients can include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and neck, rapid heartbeat, rashes, dizziness, and weakness.
The vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech became controversial after the Government of India allowed its use without specific data demonstrating its effectiveness in preventing COVID-19. Tens of thousands of people have received the shot in the past three days after India began vaccinating health workers last weekend as part of what is likely the world's largest coronavirus vaccination campaign.
India vaccinated 148,266 people on Monday, bringing the total to 381,305, the Ministry of Health said.
The Indian authorities hope to give vaccines to 300 million people. Recipients are said to include 30 million doctors, nurses and other frontline workers, followed by 270 million people who are either over 50 or have diseases that make them susceptible to COVID-19.
India approved emergency use of two vaccines on Jan. 4, one developed by Oxford University and UK-based drug maker AstraZeneca and the other developed by Bharat Biotech. The regulator took the step without disclosing any information about the effectiveness of the Indian vaccine.
Bharat Biotech has not yet released data on the effectiveness of its vaccine, but said it meets guidelines for clinical trials.
The regulator claims the vaccine is safe and gave its approval on the assumption that it could be more effective at fighting a new variant of the coronavirus found in the UK. The regulator and the company have announced that efficacy data will be released after ongoing clinical trials are completed.
Most hospitals in India vaccinate health care workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, voter turnout, especially in hospitals that use the Bharat biotech vaccine, is relatively low, according to health officials.
In New Delhi hospitals that have administered the Bharat Biotech vaccine, many doctors have hesitated to get the shot.
The vaccination campaign started at a time when the coronavirus infections have fallen sharply and much of life has returned to normal.
India is the second largest country after the US in the number of confirmed cases with more than 10.5 million. In terms of reported deaths, the country ranks third after the United States and Brazil with over 152,000.

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