KATHMANDU, MAY 24
The Nepal government launched its vaccination drive as armour against the corona virus on January 17 this year, two days after the Department of Drug Administration (DDA) gave approval for emergency use of Covishield, produced in India. As a frontline worker, I had the privilege to get vaccinated first. However, going by the rumours that the vaccine's safety and efficacy hadn't been studied enough, I didn't take the vaccine.
Months passed, and the second wave of the coronavirus began surging in the UK and in India as well. Meanwhile, the government announced the next phase of the vaccination programme from April 7 with the delivery of Chinese vaccines – Vero Cell. With this, I got another opportunity to be vaccinated.
But before deciding on it, I wanted to find details about the vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process, often lasting 10-15 years. There are 7 stages in vaccine development, from the exploratory stage to clinical development, approval and licensing, manufacturing and quality control. This raised a big question in my mind: Have Covishield and Vero Cell vaccines covered all of these development stages? Are they really safe? With the thirst for an answer, my google search took me to the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which showed that it had given Emergency Use Listing Approval (EUL) to four manufacturers of vaccines, including Covishield.
An EUL meant that even if a vaccine wasn't fully licensed, based on risk assessment concluded through trial results, the vaccine was safe for a public health emergency.
As part of EUL, vaccines must continue to generate data to enable full licensure, and countries like Nepal can accelerate their own regulatory approval to import and administer COV- ID-19 vaccines.
Thus, Covishield was safe, but, I missed the opportunity to get vaccinated.
On the other hand, Vero Cell was under review of WHO, despite receiving emergency use approval in countries like China, UAE and Peru. After this study, now it was time to decide.
What would you do if you were in my place? As is rightly said, no risk, no return. So on April 7, I got vaccinated against the coronavirus. Exactly a month later, WHO approved the emergency use of Vero Cell.
As of date, Nepal has approved Covishield, Vero Cell and Sputnik V vaccines for emergency use.
Don't you want to have the best armour in this battle against the coronavirus? If yes, please register your name in the online application portal for the next vaccination drive here
A version of this article appears in the print on May 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.