Updated 20 January 2021
Kolkata, popularly known as ‘The City of Joy,’ ironically, is one of India’s most severely affected cities in this pandemic. Since the nationwide mass vaccination drive has started on January 16, people are eagerly anticipating the end of the devastating pandemic soon. So what are the vaccines available right now?
How is this densely populated megacity planning to vaccinate its citizens?
Updates on the COVID vaccine in Kolkata
The Serum Institute of India in Pune is responsible for despatching Covishield- the vaccine developed by The Oxford University and AstraZeneca biopharmaceutical across the country. The first consignment of 10 lakh doses of Covishield arrived from Pune via flights and refrigerated trucks.
The vaccines are stored at the state-owned Central Family Welfare Stores at Bagbazar– which is the biggest depot for stockpiling vaccines in the state. Five walk-in-coolers and four walk-in-freezers have been installed at Bagbazar for this purpose.
The first set of vaccines en route from Pune to Kolkata. India is all set to carry out the world's largest vaccination drive. The stamp on the vaccine container perfectly summarises what India stands for.
May all be free from Diseases. #India4Vaccine pic.twitter.com/P2hllELiPl
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) January 12, 2021
Kolkata has been allocated the highest number of Covid vaccines in West Bengal, at 93,500, for the first phase of the immunization drive.
What vaccines are available now?
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the Emergency Use Authorization of two COVID vaccines in the country. After being reviewed by a select panel of experts from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the authorities gave the green signal to COVID vaccines Covishield and Covaxin. Both vaccines have undergone different phases of trials and tests to establish safety and immunogenicity.
Manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Covishield is the COVID vaccine jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Covishield comprises two separate doses of 0.5 ml to be administered. The second dose should be taken after 4 to 6 weeks after the first dose.
The vaccine has been approved for restricted use for individuals 18 years of age and above. Covaxin has undergone three phases of clinical tests for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy. The confirmed efficacy rate is 70.42%.
Developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Covaxin is India’s first indigenous COVID 19 vaccine. Covaxin is a Whole Virion Inactivated Vaccine and has proven to increase immune response in recipients.
The vaccine will not be administered for children below 18 years of age. The efficacy data is unavailable, but the safety parameters are outstanding.
Other Vaccine candidates
In addition to these two approved COVID vaccines in the country right now, several other vaccines are in different phases of human clinical trials, waiting for their approval.
Pfizer was the first candidate in India to apply for its emergency approval.Manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals based in America and BioNTech, the biotechnology company from Germany, the Pfizer vaccine has already been widely authorized in countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Bahrain, among different other countries.
This mRNA vaccine has undergone three safety trials abroad. However, Pfizer will be authorized by the government only after doing a local study on the Indian population. The vaccine consists of 2 doses to be taken 21 days apart and is recommended for people aged 16 years and older. The efficacy rate is reportedly more than 90%.
Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D
COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila, the pharmaceutical firm based in Hyderabad, is waiting for the central government’s approval to conduct Phase III safety trials. Phase II trials have been undertaken successfully in over 1000 healthy individuals. The plasmid DNA vaccine has been found safe and immunogenic in the first two trials.
The vaccine is known to show improved vaccine stability than its counterparts, enabling it to remain stable at room temperature for over three months. The vaccine’s strength and resistance would make it ideal for access, even in the country’s remotest regions.
Sputnik V is the first registered vaccine against COVID-19 created on a human adenoviral vector platform. Produced by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Sputnik V is currently undergoing last-stage trials after completing a Phase II study. The ongoing clinical trial in Russia involves 40,000 volunteers.
The vaccine comprises two doses. The second dose should be taken 21 days after administration of the first dose. The efficacy rate is confirmed to be 91.4%. Sputnik V will soon apply for emergency-use approval in the country.
Followed by the approval from DGIC, Biological E. has initiated Phase I/II clinical trial of its COVID-19. The Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm is collaborating with the US-based biopharmaceutical firm Dynavax Technologies Corporation and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
The clinical tests will evaluate vaccine safety and immunogenicity in healthy individuals between ages 18 and 65. The results are expected to be available by the end of February.
Mynvax is a heat-tolerant COVID 19 vaccine developed at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The vaccine could tolerate and stay stable at much higher temperatures, whereas other vaccine candidates might lose their shape after 50°C, making it a “warm vaccine.”
Mynvax can be stored at 37°C for over a month without losing its viability and ability to fight the virus. Researchers at IISc have reported that the vaccine maintains its stability at very high temperatures up to 100°C.
Pune-based firm Gennova in collaboration with HDT Biotech Corporation, Seattle, US has produced the mRNA COVID vaccine- HGCO19. The DGCI has granted conditional permission for Phase I and II trials of the vaccine.
The tests are expected to be complete by mid-March. If approved, HGCO19 will be the first indigenous mRNA vaccine in the country.
When can Kolkata residents be vaccinated?
The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsha Vardhan, has mandated registration through the CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) app for administering the vaccine. The app is currently unavailable to citizens but will soon be made accessible from all platforms.
Like the rest of the country, vaccination in Kolkata will be carried out in three phases:
- Phase 1 focuses on health care workers.
- Phase 2 is for the police, armed forces and disaster management volunteers.
- Phase 3 focuses on individuals above 50 and those under 50 with comorbidities.
So far, 90,000 frontline health workers at government and private hospitals have been enrolled for the first phase of the West Bengal vaccination process. Around six lakh health workers are expected to be inoculated by the end of Phase 1.
Where to get vaccinated in Kolkata?
Kolkata will have 14 vaccination centers. This includes eight government medical colleges, five primary healthcare centers and three private hospitals.
The list of government medical colleges administering vaccines are as follows:
Medical College Hospital Kolkata
88, College St, Calcutta Medical College, College Square, Kolkata, West Bengal 700073
RG Kar Medical College and Hospital
1, Khudiram Bose Sarani, Bidhan Sarani, Shyam Bazar, Kolkata, West Bengal 700004
Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital
138, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Rd, Sealdah, Raja Bazar, Kolkata, West Bengal 700014
Calcutta National Medical College & Hospital
32, Gorachand Rd, Beniapukur, Kolkata, West Bengal 700014
Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research
244, Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Rd, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700020
Chittaranjan Seva Sadan Hospital
83, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rd, Bakul Bagan, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700026
The following are the list of private hospitals authorized to dispense vaccines:
Dr. BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children
Narkeldanga Main Road, Kankurgachi, Kolkata, West Bengal 700054
Calcutta School Of Tropical Medicine
108, Chittaranjan Ave, Calcutta Medical College, College Square, Kolkata, West Bengal 700073
Beleghata I.D. Hospital
57, Beleghata Main Rd, Subhas Sarobar Park, Phool Bagan, Beleghata, Kolkata, West Bengal 700010
How much will the vaccination cost?
The Centre is bearing the cost for all those who qualify for Phase 1. There is no absolute clarity on what will cost the rest of the public. Report suggests that Covishield will cost Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses and Rs 1,000 per dose after that at private outlets. The Covaxin course is estimated to cost Rs 206 per dose.
However, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has stated that vaccine will be provided free of cost across the country. Kolkata Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also promised arrangements to make the vaccine free of charge.