The highlight of my week has been perusing the publication of a ground breaking article in the Medical Journal of the Armed Forces of India. This article is all about the effectiveness of vaccination in safeguarding those vaccinated with the Covishield vaccine (Astra Zeneca- Serum Institute).
The Indian Armed Forces began vaccination with Covishield on 16 Jan 2021, and the data pertaining to vaccination done upto 30 May 2021 has been included in this study by Ghosh et al. This ‘VIN-WIN’ cohort study was carried out on anonymized data of 1,595,630 personnel of the Armed Forces.
Participants were deemed partially vaccinated (PV) and fully vaccinated (FV) two weeks after the first and second vaccine dose respectively. Any person who tested positive for COVID-19 after vaccination, was labelled as a case of breakthrough infection.
The results of the study confirmed what rational public health professionals across the world had a gut feeling about all along, i.e the vaccine protected individuals against infections and against death ! In this study, the vaccine effectiveness relating to prevention of COVID related deaths was 98.53% and for preventing of breakthrough infections was 91.8% to 94.9% ! What can be better news than this?
Plain language translation- the Covishield vaccine works . Don’t hesitate, vaccinate. Whether you choose Covishield or any other vaccine, keep in mind that you will be afforded ‘some’ protection for sure. And isnt some protection better than no protection?
However, the euphoria notwithstanding, we need to be aware of the limitations of this study too. This Armed Forces cohort differs from the broader Indian population as the participants have a younger age profile with minimal co-morbidities, being a generally ‘fit’ cohort. Also the findings ideally should not be extrapolated to other and older age groups.
For a quick overview of the study you can listen to Air Cmde Shankar, an infectious diseases expert from the Armed Forces, by clicking on this video
For those interested in dissecting the article and assimilating directly https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0377123721001787
Bottomline: Vaccination is effective! Do not hesitate, Vaccinate! Persuade others around you to get vaccinated at the earliest. Your safety lies in everyone everywhere getting vaccinated, sooner than later.
You may like to have a quick read- through the Key Messages for this pandemic and decide how best to disseminate these key messages to your family, friends, relatives and colleagues.