Covaxin safe for those on aspirin, anti-platelet blood thinners: ICMR

Clarification comes following confusion over contraindication in Covaxin factsheet


Covaxin is safe for those on blood thinners, of a specific kind though. Those on anti-platelets such as aspirin and clopidogrel can safely take Covaxin, ICMR director general Dr. Balram Bhargava told the media.

The clarification came days after the confusion over a key contraindication in the Covaxin factsheet—the vaccine is not advised for certain categories of people, including those suffering from a bleeding disorder or, are on blood thinners and are immune-compromised. “There are two categories of blood thinners; anti-platelets such as aspirin and clopidogrel. These are not a problem at all. The other category is that of anti-coagulants like heparin, and newer oral anticoagulants, [in those patients] the tendency to bleed is much higher. The only worry is of a local swelling or hematoma at injection site, and so, it is very relative contraindication. Those on anti-coagulants can stop taking those medications for a day or two prior to taking the vaccination,” Bhargava said. He added that since the contraindication had been mentioned in both vaccine factsheets (Covaxin and Covishield) the companies – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech – had written to the DCGI to “rectify” the point in the factsheet, he added.

India’s vaccination drive that began on January 16 has had over 25 lakh beneficiaries, though the roll-out has seen better coverage in some states. While states such as Haryana and Odisha have vaccinated 50 per cent of their eligible healthcare and frontline workers, Delhi and Tamil Nadu have been lagging at 15.7 per cent. Other states that have been doing well include Rajasthan (46.8 per cent), Telangana (40.3 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (38.1 pe rcent). Those such as Uttarakhand (17.1 per cent) and Maharashtra (20.7 per cent) need to speed up their vaccination, union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

The government had factored in a vaccine wastage of 10 per cent, and guidelines had been issued on how to prevent it, Bhushan said. Flexibility to vaccinate those who are not scheduled to get the shot that day, increasing the number of vaccination sessions per day, and holding multiple sessions simultaneously at bigger hospitals had been provided in the CoWin platform to maximise vaccine coverage.

The government was also engaging with private stakeholders such as the managing director of Biocon Limited, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Bhushan said. "We need to vaccinate 2m [sic] per day n unless private hospitals start vaccinating general population we will struggle to keep pace with vaccine production which far outweighs utilisation. Unlike other countries we don’t have shortage of supplies,” Shaw had tweeted on Wednesday. Responding to a question on her social media post, Bhushan said the Union health ministry had engaged with her and was actively examining the “inputs” received from her.