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Why Has The Efficacy Of COVID-19 Vaccines Dropped?

The debate surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines seems to be never-ending. During the first outbreak last year there was much hype and concern on whether we will ever have a vaccine in time to put a stop to the spread given the unknown nature of the novel virus. Once that question was put to an end with an array of vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech, Modern, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) being released into the market worldwide, there was another matter of concern and controversy; does taking the vaccine put your life at risk? This subsequently led to a significant degree of vaccine hesitancy amongst the older as well as the younger generation causing a delay in the vaccination drive.

Upon successful assurance and expedition of the drive, now there is another disheartening revelation – COVID vaccine efficacy seems to be dropping down.

This fact became evident when about two months ago (in July) Israel recorded a steep decline in the efficacy rate of their inoculated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Ynet News reported that the COVID vaccine efficacy had dropped down to a startling 60% from June as it was failing to curtail the infection rates in the face of the Delta variant wave and the associated easing of COVID restrictions. 

Why is it Dropping? 

As per reports published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers monitored how the effectiveness of the vaccine dropped to 96% between May June and then to about 60% in July. Researchers as well as doctors after careful consideration of the situation came to three possible conclusions. 

  1. The immune response to mRNA based vaccines starts to dwindle over time. Longer the gap from the time when you have first vaccinated the faster the decline in neutralizing antibodies your immunity might have had. This means that with a compromised COVID immunity the efficacy of the vaccine is also lowered.
  1. Another point that determines the vaccine effectiveness is the surrounding infection rate. If the infection spread in your community is extremely high, your vaccine will not be able to protect you 100%. So masking up and maintaining social distancing still stands as the standard COVID-19 safety protocols no matter if you are vaccinated or not. 
  1. The third factor pointed out by doctors is that your vaccine efficacy will alter depending on the type of infection raging in your community at a given time. A contagious delta variant infects people aggressively therefore a variation in efficacy can be seen.

Do booster shots actually help? 

As per the current trend, fully inoculated people are getting infected with a percentage in some places as worrisome as 50%. The COVID-19 virus is constantly evolving and coming back stronger in each wave. So, in order to really take things up a notch and boost up our immunity doctors are saying that booster shots might be the need of the hour. But how do these shots work?

A vaccine is made up of inactive or weakened viruses or bacteria. When you get yourself the booster dose it prepares your immunity to combat the foreign invasion in the same way as it would for the original infection. This aids your body to create a memory of the virus. If you are exposed to the virus or bacteria again the antibody will be able to detect and finish it off before it can bring about severe damage. You can get booster shots a few weeks, months or even years after your vaccine shot depending upon the guidelines issued in your country.

However, the current government focus in India is to complete the vaccination of the Indian population as that was most necessary. Although many western countries are emphasizing the need for a booster shot drive right away, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is only concerned with getting as many adults vaccinated as possible. So, though a booster shot might be effective in giving your better protection against future COVID-19 infections it is not the agenda of the Health Ministry as of this moment.  

Also Read: Omicron Variant & Vaccine Efficacy


Although the majority of COVID-19 hospitalization cases have been seen amongst unvaccinated people (especially during the Second Wave in India), there is no guarantee how strong the next viral strain might be and to what extent the vaccine can shield you from possible future infection. Additionally, with the drop in COVID vaccine efficacy over time, the need for booster shots might be essential eventually to not only keep your immunity strong against further COVID-19 infections. A complete vaccination does protect you from getting severely infected but it may not be able to provide you 100% safety from re-infection. Therefore it is important to get vaccinated and also follow COVID-appropriate behaviour for your own safety and the safety of others.

Also Read: Omicron Variant: Latest News & Updates

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

How Can You Identify Fake COVID-19 Vaccines?

India’s vaccination drive for COVID-19 has been progressing steadily and as of September 2021, a sizable chunk of the population had received at least 1 dose. While this is good news, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before we can be freed from the clutches of COVID-19.

In the midst of all this, it has come to light that there could be reasons for doubting the authenticity of the vaccines being administered in the country, namely Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V. Recent cases of fake COVID-19 Vaccines being sold in South-East Asia and Africa prompted the WHO to issue a warning regarding the circulation of counterfeit vaccines and the need to be able to identify them. 

Now the Indian government has responded by issuing guidelines to help identify fake COVID-19 vaccines being used in the country.

Spotting fake Covaxin – Guidelines  

As per WHO vaccination guidelines, checking the authenticity of the vaccine will help curb the spread of fake COVID-19 vaccines. The more vaccine awareness there is, the harder it is for fakes to get into the system. Covaxin can be easily identified by a few markers like:

Spotting fake Covishield – Guidelines

Along with Covaxin, Covishield was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in India. Knowing the signs of the authentic Covishield vaccine will help to curb fake COVID-19 vaccines. There are several key ways to identify an authentic Covishield vaccine:

Spotting fake Sputnik V – Guidelines

This Russian developed vaccine was approved after Covaxin and Covishield, it is being distributed in India through Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. Although Sputnik V is being produced by two Russian manufacturing sites, the labels will be identical in design and text except for the manufacturing centre’s name:

Should you be worried about fake COVID-19 Vaccines?

While fake pharmaceuticals are a bane in virtually every country, for now, the menace of fake vaccines for COVID-19 has been limited to just South-East Asia and Africa. Only a few stray incidents have been reported in India. 

In some cases, the doctors and medical staff in charge of performing the vaccination may also benefit from knowing these subtle differences to provide an additional layer of safety to the general public. By the time the vaccine reaches you, it has passed through several qualified and trusted experts so the chances that you will end up with a fake vaccine in your system are very rare.

While counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines are something we need to be alert for, it isn’t likely to affect you if the concerned people do their job. Keep these signs of authentic vaccines in mind when you go in for your shot, but don’t expect that you will spot a fake since that remains unlikely at this point in time. 


So what can you do to help the situation? It is important to get your vaccination (and all your pharmaceuticals) from authorized and trusted sources (government-recognized hospitals and vaccine centres). Do not fall for ‘cheaper’ vaccine promises and always check the latest news to keep your vaccine awareness up-to-date. If you notice shady, illegal or inauthentic distribution and sale by persons (or groups) claiming to provide a vaccine that is not approved by the government, report them to the authorities at the earliest. And if you happen to spot a consignment of Covaxin, Covishield or Sputnik vaccines that do not match the above descriptions, bring it to the attention of the police, the Health Ministry as well as any local hospital that is performing COVID-19 vaccinations. Be aware and stay safe!

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

Sputnik V Gets Emergency Use Approval In India

The new COVID-19 strain has derailed the Indian healthcare infrastructure in no time, and our country, which was donating vaccines to the neighbouring nations a few weeks ago, is facing a shortage of the life-saving shots and almost every other facility required to fight this pandemic.

In a huge relief to the people, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in India. This is the third vaccine India has approved to use against the deadly virus. The earlier two are – Covishield and Covaxin. The former has been developed by the Oxford University-AstraZeneca and Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing it, while the latter has been developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Who will distribute Sputnik V in India?

Indian pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has joined hands with the Russian sovereign fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) for carrying out the bridge clinical trials of the vaccine in India, which is the 60th country to approve its use.

When will the distribution of Sputnik V start in India?

The RDIF has confirmed that vaccine distribution will begin by the end of April or in the first week of May.

Who has developed and is manufacturing Sputnik V?

The Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, backed by the Russian state, has developed the vaccine. The registration of the vaccine in Russia was done in August 2020 as Gam-COVID-Vac, and the “V” in the name of the vaccine stands for alphabet V. The developer has informed that the vaccine can be stored at 2-8 degree celsius.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has got the contract of distributing up to 250 million doses in India, by importing them. RDIF has also signed a manufacturing contract with Stelis Biopharma, Gland Pharma, Virchow Biotech, Panacea Biotec and Hetero Biopharma to manufacture more than 850 million Sputnik V doses in India. The doses produced in India will be exported across the world.

The production of the vaccine is soon to start at Hetero Biopharma and Panacea Biotec, while the other pharma companies will begin production in September 2021.

How is Sputnik V different from other vaccines?

Sputnik V is an adenovirus viral vector vaccine, which carries viruses especially made containing the coronavirus genes. Some of these types of vaccines make their way into the cells and cause them to produce viral proteins. The others just gradually replicate, travelling through the body with virus proteins on their surface.

How many doses are required?

People have to get two doses of Sputnik V, similar to Covishield and Covaxin. Both the doses have to be administered at least 21 days apart. These are inoculated through injection into the muscle.

What’s the efficacy of Sputnik V?

The Russian vaccine has shown excellent results with an efficacy rate of 91.5 percent. This rate is the highest after Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines. Before giving it the green signal, a bridging trial was conducted in India.

Another positive news is that only 0.1 percent of the vaccine receivers have complained about the side effects.

What’s the price of the vaccine?

In the international market, the Russian vaccine costs around Rs. 750 per dose, but its price in India is still to be decided, as the government is trying to negotiate the pricing with the manufacturer.

Why is it important for India at this time?

The vaccine approval for emergency use in India is very crucial as the second wave of the pandemic has already put India on the back foot in the war against the virus. Many states in the country have been reporting a shortage of vaccines, even when India is all set to expand the vaccination drive.

Which countries are currently using it?

Russia became the first country to start inoculating its citizens with Sputnik V. It is currently being administered in many countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Argentina, Vietnam, Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Panama, Mauritius, Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.


With the quickly rising number of cases of COVID-19 in India, approval to Sputnik V for emergency use can come as a boon for the countrymen. We should hope that the first lot of vaccines land in India soon so that the vaccination drive can come back on the right track.

Know your current health status.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.