covishield vaccine

Covishield: A complete FAQ on SA’s Covid-19 vaccine

Posted by Andile Sicetsha

South Africa continues to battle a mutated strain of coronavirus (Covid-19) and while infections continue to rise exponentially, a glimmer of hope has been restored with news of a Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, that’s coming to our shores as early as January.

SA secures Covid-19 vaccine from SII

The country’s health ministry and the Serum Institute of India (SII) entered into a distribution agreement and SA — a member of COVAX – is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of the vaccine between January and February.

At what cost, you may ask. This, unfortunately, is not known. The important thing is, the availability of these many doses of Covishield can kickstart the government’s three-phased vaccination strategy.

A tough task lies ahead for SA’s deployment of the vaccine

First in line to receive shots are frontline healthcare workers, who make up 10% of the population earmarked for the vaccination program.

Mkhize explained, earlier this week, that to achieve herd immunity from the new strain, at least 67% of the population has to take the vaccine.

How the ministry plans to achieve this with the country’s negative sentiment towards the program remains to be seen.

Everything you need to know about Covishield

Perhaps, much of this uncertainty comes from a lack of knowledge on the vaccine.

We did some research into the SII’s Covishield and here’s everything you need to know about it.

Who manufactures Covishield?

Covishield, according to Mint, was developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca and manufactured by the SII for India and African countries part of the COVAX group.

The version of the vaccine earmarked for the United Kingdom and other European markets will be managed by AstraZeneca and Oxford.

How much did South Africa pay for the vaccine?

This is still unclear at this stage. What we know, though, is that the SII sold 100 million doses of Covishield to the Indian government at a marked-down $2.74 (R42.09) per dose.

If we are to assume that the same price tag was given to South Africa, then it would have cost approximately R63.1 million for 1 500 000 doses.

How does Covishield work?

Mint reports that when injected, Covishield goes into our immune system and makes the body reproduce antibodies that fight the virus.

How will Covishield be administered?

To administer the vaccine, medical professionals will have to perform an intermuscular injection, usually on the deltoid muscle located on the upper arm. The administration will come in two injections, each capped at 0.5ml. Patients will be required to return after four weeks for the second injection.

What are the side effects of Covishield?

While there is a one-in-10 chance of experiencing illness after taking the vaccine shot, these side effects should still be taken into account:

  • pain and discomfort in the injected area;
  • generally feeling unwell;
  • fatigue;
  • chills and fever;
  • headache;
  • nausea; and
  • joint or muscle pain.

Will you be immune to Covid-19 if you take the vaccine?

While the vaccine forms a needed attack against the virus, there is no existing data that suggests that it makes one immune to Covid-19.

The positive thing about it is, people with comorbidities stand a greater chance of surviving the respiratory illness.

At this time, it is not known when in January the vaccine will be distributed to healthcare workers.