Limitations of AIIMS Study on vaccines, ‘Covid vaccines prevent death?’

AIIMS has conducted a study about Covid vaccines of brands Covishield and Covaxin.vaccines. These brands are currently used in India for mass vaccination against Covid 19 disease.

There is news in the media about this latest study. There is too much discussion going on regarding the study. Let us discuss what this AIIMS study on vaccines was and what were its limitations.

What does AIIMS study about vaccines explain?

The study was conducted in April – May 2021 by AIIMS. It tries to find out about death in vaccinated people with a single dose and 2 doses of Covishield and Covaxin vaccine. It tries to find out the number of deaths because of Covid disease after covid vaccination.

Who were the participants?

The participants of this AIIMS study about covid vaccines were as follows:

  • Those people who got Covid disease after single or 2 doses of vaccinations.
  • Those who did not have any comorbidity.
  • Those who were of average age group 37 years.
  • Those who got single or 2 doses of Covishield or Covid vaccine.

What were the findings of the AIIMS study on the vaccines?

Following were the observations of this study:

  • AIIMS declared the results of the study clarifying that 53 people had received doses of Covishield and 10 people had received Covaxin doses.
  • 36 people out of these 63 received 2 doses and 27 out of 63 received a single dose of the vaccine.
  • At the time of the early phase viral load was higher in infected people even if they have got the vaccine.
  • They got high grade non remitting fever in the initial phase of the Covid illness.
  • The severity of the symptoms in the initial phase was similar to unvaccinated cases in these vaccinated people.
  • Subset of these patients have developed antibodies after vaccination, they still got the infection and Covid illness.
  • They all eventually recovered of disease and no one died of severe disease.
  • This study states that though vaccinated people for Covid may get infected and symptomatic disease, death was zero.

What were the limitations of the AIIMS study on vaccines?

Though it was a great effort to study the effect of the Covid vaccination, this study too had its own limitations. Those limitations are as follows:

  • This study was done on a very small sample size of 63 people.
  • This study was conducted with participants of relatively young age of 37 years.
  • This study was conducted on people who got breakthrough infection after vaccination but did not have any comorbidities.
  • This study did not involve people of old age.
  • This study did not involve people with comorbidities.
  • It did not compare people with the same conditions but were unvaccinated and got disease.
  • It was conducted in city limits where infrastructure is definitely better and easily accessible than rural areas.
  • It did not compare patients treated in govt set up vs private set ups.
Small sample size
Participants without comorbidities
Participants of young age group
Inadequate presentation of rural areas
No comparison with unvaccinated people of same conditions
Does not mention time of starting treatment.
Limitations of AIIMS Study on Covid vaccines

What are further recommendations from AIIMS study about vaccines?

To avoid the limitations of this study we have following recommendations:

  • We need a large scale study about breakthrough infection with a lot more subjects involved.
  • We need to divide sample size age wise.
  • We need to divide sample size comorbidity wise.
  • Further the samples should be taken from all the parts of the country with adequate representation of the rural and urban population.
  • The sample size should be studied about how the effect was in both the sexes.
  • This study should have considered the time of start of treatment.
  • This study should have considered the educational and socioeconomic background of the participants.

What is a breakthrough infection?

Breakthrough infection is an infection which people get even after getting vaccinated adequately. It does not necessarily indicate the failure of vaccination as even if people get infection it may prevent death.

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