What’s behind the furore over the AstraZeneca vaccine | In Focus podcast 

Dr Anurag Agrawal joins us to unpack the recent controversy over the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine or Covishield as it is known here, and now that it is being globally withdrawn, explains what India’s immunization path should be, going forward. 

Updated - May 18, 2024 09:43 pm IST

Published - May 18, 2024 04:01 pm IST

Covid-19 may not be raging any more, but a controversy over the AstraZeneca vaccine, sold as Covishield in India is. The issue first erupted when AstraZeneca, in a submission to a court in the UK, acknowledged that its vaccine could cause a rare, potentially life-threatening condition, known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS. This led to everything from outrage on social media, to political parties issuing statements and to a host of misinformation being circulated. What is significant is that this information about TTS is not new – it was established as early as in 2021, when India’s vaccination programme was underway, and it has been a known fact now for well over three years. Just a short time after the court submission made headlines, AstraZeneca also announced the worldwide withdrawal of its vaccine, citing a decline in the demand. As of this year, India has administered over 1.5 billion doses of Covishield to its eligible population. 

What led to the furore over the vaccine’s rare side effect and what do we know about it? How robust is India’s system to monitor adverse events arising from vaccinations? And what happens to India’s vaccination programme if Covishield is no longer available – are there other options available for those who need them or for future immunisations? 

Guest: Dr Anurag Agrawal, Dean, BioSciences and Health Research, Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University 

Host: Zubeda Hamid 

Edited by Sharmada Venkatasubramanian. 

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