Your complete guide to the three Covid-19 vaccines available in India

Vaccination in India began on January 16 and as of July 7 more than 364 million doses have been administered, including first and second doses of the vaccines. India currently has approved 3 covid vaccines; the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Sputnik V (developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology in association with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories). Some other vaccine candidates like Moderna’s vaccine, are also undergoing local clinical trials. All these vaccines instruct the body’s immune system to identify and obstruct the virus that causes Covid-19, thereby offering protection against severe illness.

Important things to know about the vaccines-

  • All the vaccines are safe and effective.
  • Side effects after vaccination are completely normal.
  • After one is fully vaccinated, the body normally takes few weeks to build protection (immunity) against the Covid-19 causing virus.
  • It is important for people to continue taking all precautions until they receive both doses.
  • Once fully vaccinated, you should still take precautions as the vaccine may not prevent infection (it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation for most people)

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Also read: Covid-19 Vaccine: What to Do Before and After Getting the Shot

Following are the different types of vaccines for Covid-19 –

  • Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines use a virus that is inactivated or weakened. These viruses don’t cause disease, but still generate an immune response. Covaxin is an inactivated viral vaccine that has been developed with Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell-derived technology. These conventional vaccines have been in use for long now for diseases like seasonal influenza, rabies, polio, Pertussis, and Japanese encephalitis.
  • Protein-based vaccines are the ones that use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that imitate the Covid-19 virus and generate an immune response.
  • Viral vector vaccines use a safe virus that is incapable of causing the disease but acts as a platform to produce coronavirus proteins that prompts an immune response. Covishield has been prepared using the viral vector platform which is a totally different technology.
  • RNA and DNA vaccines use genetically engineered RNA or DNA to produce a protein that itself safely generates an immune response.

For more information about coronavirus, and Covid-19 vaccines, visit DocGenie website and keep yourself updated regularly.

Also read: COVID-19 Vaccine: 14 Commonly Asked Questions

Developers of the vaccines

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) has developed Covaxin. On the other hand, Oxford-AstraZeneca developed Covishield under a partnership. The Serum Institute of India (SII) is manufacturing this vaccine for India and under a licensing partnership. The Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology in Moscow developed the Sputnik V vaccine in association with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.

Doses and efficacy

Both Covaxin and Covishield are intramuscular vaccines, have the same dosage and are administered as 0.5ml injections in the upper arm region. However, time period between the two doses differs for each vaccine. The government recommends taking the second dose of Covaxin 4-6 weeks after the first dose. For Covishield, the recommended gap is 84 days or 12-16 weeks after the first dose. Both Covaxin and Covishield exhibited more than satisfactory results. For instance, the effectiveness of Covishield is nearly 90% as per global reports and that of Covaxin is 81% according to interim 3rd phase trial results.  

Sputnik V, the second most expensive Covid-19 jab in India, is made by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the use of the Sputnik V vaccine for usage, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). It is also a two-dose Covid-19 vaccine and uses a similar platform to Covishield. However, unlike Covishield, which uses a weakened common cold “adenovirus” that affects chimpanzees, Sputnik V uses two different human adenoviruses. According to a publication in the scientific journal The Lancet, the vaccine has an efficacy of more than 91%. 


At present, ICMR and the government have approved Covaxin for emergency restricted use, while they have approved Covishield for restricted use in emergency situations that can effectively prevent coronavirus infections in people aged 18 years and above. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved and recommended Sputnik-V for emergency use authorisation in India. It is the third vaccine to be made available in India after Covishield and Covaxin.

Price of the vaccines

Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik-V vaccines are available free of cost at government hospitals and centres. However, rates in the private hospital vary and you should contact the hospitals for the exact cost of the vaccine.

Differences between the available vaccines 

Summing up the differences between Covishield and Covaxin –
Covishield has been prepared using the viral vector platform which is a totally different technology.Covaxin is an inactivated viral vaccine that has been developed with Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell-derived technology.
Interval between first and second doses is 12-16 weeksInterval between the first and second doses is 4-6 weeks
Covishield can be 70-90% effective after the second doseEfficacy of Covaxin after the second dose can vary from 78-95%
Difference between Sputnik V and the other two vaccines –
Sputnik VCovishield and Covaxin
Developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology in association with Dr Reddy’sCovishield is developed by the SII, Oxford University and AstraZeneca whereas Covaxin is developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR
Efficacy of Sputnik is 91.6 percent Efficacy of Covishield can be up to 90% and efficacy of Covaxin can be up to 78-81% effective
21 days interval is mandatory between Interval between the 2 doses The gap between the doses of Covishield and Covaxin are respectively 12-16 weeks and 4-6 weeks, respectively

Also read: Long Covid: All You Need to Know

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