Government officials in Pakistan receiving India's Astrazeneca vaccine. An order says that those who are supposed to get their second dose will get it after three months

New Delhi: Personnel of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), who were being inoculated with Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine which Pakistan has received through the Covax arrangement, have been asked not to take it further as it is leading to the development of side effects like fever, body aches, and chills that are lasting for two days. The same vaccine is marketed in India as Covishield.

In an order dated 21 May issued by the office of the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, the PAF personnel have been asked to stop taking the vaccine until further notice. The Sunday Guardian has accessed the order copy.

The order further goes on to say that those who have taken the first dose should start taking Tablet Loprin every alternate day for four weeks. Loprin is an antiplatelet medicine that is used to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and heart-related chest pain. The order has also stated that those who are supposed to get their second dose will get it after three months.

The Sunday Guardian wrote to the media team of Astra-Zeneca seeking their response on the issue, but the company shared no response. Pakistan received its first shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 on 8 May, which consisted of 12,38,400 vaccine doses. Earlier this week, the Pakistan government rolled out a “homemade” vaccine, Pakvac which it has “developed” with the China-based Cansino biologics. The vaccine was brought to Pakistan from China in a concentrated form where it was packed at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

As per the PAF order, it has further asked its staff to immediately seek medical advice if they start experiencing heartburn or bleeding from the nose or mouth after taking the vaccine.

It is pertinent to mention that as per a study done by researchers from King’s College, London, United Kingdom, that was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal in April, one in four people who had this vaccine had experienced mild, short-lived systemic side effects with headache and fatigue being the most common symptoms.

The other effects included chills and shivers, diarrhoea, fever, arthralgia, myalgia, and nausea, apart from pain at the site of injection, swelling, tenderness, redness, itch, warmth, and swollen armpit glands. These side effects peaked within the first 24 hours of taking the vaccination and usually lasted 1-2 days.