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India approves COVID-19 vaccine

India approved two vaccines for the coronavirus earlier this week, COVISHIELD developed by the Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccination producer, and COVAXIN, built by Bharat Biotech and based on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine; these vaccines are the latest and possibly the primary weapons in India’s armada against a virus that has taken over a million lives and continues to manifest in new strains, the end is nowhere in sight.

The candidates are in stage 3 of their trials, and with their approval, the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, rolled out a vaccination plan for frontline workers who are to be given the vaccine entirely free of cost; which vaccine would be given remains unclear. In either case, it would be one of the largest immunizations ever.

However, while India hops on the boat of vaccine nations, these approvals have sparked controversy among India’s medical fraternity as both these vaccinations have yet to clear phase 3 trials, and adequate research remains to be done on their side effects, creating fears of several adverse side effects.

India, with its population of 2 billion people, is a challenge as vaccinating people spread over an entire vast, dense subcontinent is a herculean task. India also lacks requisite vaccine transport and storage facilities in the peripheries of its many cities.

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