Covaxin vs Covishield: Which Is Better and Why?

Covaxin vs. Covishield
Covaxin vs. Covishield

Covaxin vs Covishield: Covaxin and Covishield are two COVID-19 vaccines in India that have received WHO approval. If you are yet to get your first jab, you may be wondering which vaccine to choose. In this Covaxin vs Covishield comparison, we will compare the two vaccines based on their dosage, storage, effectiveness, side effects, and more.

Let’s tune in.

What is Covaxin?

Covaxin is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the National Institute of Virology. The vaccine works on the inactivated virus principle. Since the virus administered is inactive, it can’t replicate inside the body and infect the person. This principle is one of the oldest vaccination principles, where the aim is to expose the body to a small amount of inactivated virus to trigger an immune response.

Covaxin vs. Covishield
Covaxin vs. Covishield

So far, over 100 million people in India have received a jab of Covaxin.

What Is Covishield?

Covishield is a viral vector vaccine used to prevent COVID-19. Developed by the Serum Institute of India, Covishield has the scientific name Oxford–AstraZeneca and the code name AZD1222. The vaccine comprises a weakened version of adenovirus (common cold virus) extracted from chimpanzees and modified to look like SARS-CoV-2.

Covaxin vs. Covishield
Covaxin vs. Covishield

Once a person receives a Covishield jab, their body starts fighting the modified adenovirus version and starts developing antibodies. Over 50 million people in India have received a jab of Covishield.

Covaxin vs Covishield

Both Covaxin and Covishield are WHO-approved vaccines. However, the mechanism of the two vaccines is different. Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine, while Covishield relies on the viral vector principle. So, which vaccine should you get and why? Let’s find out.

Covaxin vs. Covishield Dosage

Covaxin and Covishield both comprise two doses of 0.5 ml each. One vial of both the vaccines consists of 10 doses. Earlier, Covaxin had a larger vial that could administer 20 doses, but the manufacturer then started supplying smaller vials.

The dose interval is where the two vaccines differ significantly. Covaxin has a dosing interval of 30 days. If you get the first dose today, you can get the second dose after 30 days. The gap for Covishield is 84 days, almost thrice the interval of Covaxin.

Covaxin vs. Covishield Effectiveness

Covishield was the first vaccine in India to receive approval for administration in adults. A single dose of Covishield is 71% effective, and the second dose increases that efficacy to 91%.

The first dose of Covaxin is 78% effective, and the second dose increases the efficacy to 100%. Covaxin has received approval for administration in adults and children above 12 years of age.

Covaxin vs. Covishield Side Effects

Covaxin has mild symptoms. You may experience swelling at the injection site, pain and numbness in the arm, headache and body ache, and slight fever. The symptoms won’t last for more than 48 hours.

The symptoms of Covishield are slightly stronger. You may get a fever, and some people have reported a high fever. However, the fever doesn’t last for over 48 hours. Other symptoms include headache, body ache, and pain and numbness in the arm. Overall, you may get slightly stronger symptoms with Covishield than with Covaxin.

Covaxin vs. Covishield Storage

Both Covaxin and Covishield need a cold storage environment. They must be stored in a cold and dark place. The suitable temperature is 2 to 8 degrees. This temperature and environment are easily achievable using a refrigerator.

Covaxin vs. Covishield Global Recognition

Both Covaxin and Covishield received approval from the World Health Organization. Covishield has the backing of two trials conducted in India and is approved in 47 countries. Covaxin has the support of 7 trials in India and is approved in 1 country. Hence, both vaccines have received global recognition.

Effectiveness Against the Omicron Variant

The Delta variant of COVID-19 took a toll on the efficacy of vaccines. The effectiveness of Covishield reduced to 67%, while the efficacy of Covaxin plummeted to 60. So, how will these vaccines stand the wrath of the new Omicron variant?

Unfortunately, there’s not much data on the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron, primarily because the variant has just entered India, and not much testing has been done yet. However, a medical expert stated that mRNA vaccines wouldn’t be effective against the Omicron variant. However, some vaccines are different. For instance, Covishield and Covaxin use different antigen presentations to create immunity.

Since the Omicron variant has already entered India, we’ll learn soon if these vaccines can stand the test of time.

Covaxin vs Covishield: Which Vaccine Should You Get?

The ultimate question is which vaccine you should get. Well, the answer to this question isn’t simple. Let’s take three scenarios and what you can do according to each of them.

You Don’t Have a Choice

Let’s say you’ve not yet received the first jab of any vaccine. You go to a nearby vaccination center, and they have either Covaxin or Covishield only. In that case, you don’t have a choice, and you should receive any vaccine available. Besides, both vaccines have comparable efficacy, so there’s no reason to handpick any vaccine.

You Have a Choice

Now, let’s say you go to a vaccination center that has both Covaxin and Covishield, and you can choose between them. In that case, it’s your choice. Covishield can cause fever and slightly stronger symptoms, whereas Covaxin has mild symptoms. But Covishield has shown greater efficacy against the Delta variant.

You Have Received the First Dose

If you have received the first dose, your second dose should be of the same vaccine. You should never change your vaccine after receiving the first dose, as it can cause complex and potentially hazardous reactions in your body.

Conclusion: Covaxin vs. Covishield

Both Covaxin and Covishield are almost equally effective, so there’s not much to choose between the two. If you don’t have a choice, just get a jab of whichever vaccine you can get. Getting vaccinated is more important than the vaccine used. However, if you can choose, you can go for Covishield because of its higher efficacy against the Delta variant.


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