Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

A. General

A. Two vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO)in India are Covishield® (AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin® (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited)

A. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a regulatory mechanism to allow the use of vaccines and medicines to prevent and or reduce the impact of life-threatening diseases or conditions as caused by Covid19. However, before grant of the EUA, there is rigorous assessments of laboratory and clinical trial data, including data on quality, safety, production of protective antibodies and efficacy. Safety is particularly critical aspect of this scrutiny and a risk-versus- benefit evaluation is done in the context of a public health emergency. Full licensure is obtained when the manufacturer submits the complete data.EUA by Indian regulators is aligned with global guidelines.

A. Concept of EUA always existed to save the lives of people all over the world with vaccine and medicines for life threatening diseases while companies continue to obtain additional safety and effectiveness information to enable full licensure. Previously, EUAs have been granted to vaccines for outbreaks due to anthrax, Ebola, enterovirus, H7N9 influenza, and Middle East respiratory syndrome. As of January 2021, nine COVID-19 vaccines were in emergency use in numerous countries around the globe.

A. Both the Indian COVID 19 vaccines have completed their Phase I & II trials. Covishield® has completed its Phase III trials in UK and the bridging trial in India.

A. Vaccine trail phases includes:

Phases of vaccine development/trial Purpose
Pre-clinical Vaccine development in laboratory animals
Phase 1 Clinical trial
(small number of participants)
Assess vaccine safety, immune response and determine right dosage (short duration)
Phase 2 Clinical trial
(few hundred participants)
Assess safety and the ability of the vaccine to generate an immune response (short duration)
Phase 3 Clinical trial (thousands of participants) Determine vaccine effectiveness against the disease and safety in a larger group of people (duration 1-2 years)

A. COVID-19 affects all age groups; however, morbidity & mortality is several times higher in adults particularly in those above the age of 50 years. Children have either asymptomatic or mild infection.

The general practice is to first evaluate any new vaccine in older population and then age reduction is done to assess the safety and effectiveness in paediatric population. The currently available vaccines have not been evaluated in children so far. There are some clinical trials now underway to test the effectiveness and safety of the COVID 19 vaccines in children.

B. Vaccine Attributes

A. Covishield® vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is a Viral Vector based Technology which is also used to manufacture Ebola vaccine. Covaxin® vaccine, manufactured by the Bharat Biotech, is a whole-Virion Inactivated Corona Virus Vaccine which is also used to manufacture vaccines like Influenza, Rabies and Hepatitis-A.

A. Composition of Covishield includes inactivated adenovirus with segments of Corona Virus, Aluminium Hydroxide Gel, L-Histidine, L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, Magnesium chloride hexahydrate, Polysorbate 80, Ethanol, Sucrose, Sodium chloride, and Disodium edetate dihydrate (EDTA).

Composition of Covaxin includes inactivated Corona Virus, Aluminum Hydroxide Gel, TLR 7/8 agonist, 2-Phenoxyethanol and Phosphate Buffered Saline[NKA1].

A. Both vaccines need to be stored and transported at +20 to +8⁰ Celsius. The cold chain for both vaccines is maintained through active and passive cold chain equipment available at approximately 29000 cold chain points across India.

A. The people at highest risk of exposure such as health care and frontline workers will receive the vaccine on priority. These personnel are also likely source of infection of their family members. Other family members will be vaccinated according to the age specific prioritization by the Government of India.

A. Yes, Covishield® vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is based on the same patent technology as the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

A. As per the permission granted by the Drug Controller General (India), for Covisheild the second dose is to be administered 4-6 weeks after the first dose and Covaxin is to be administered in two doses interval of day 0 & day 28.

A. The vaccine will be supplied to various parts of India as per availability and distribution plan, beneficiaries load and so at present the option of choice of vaccine is not available.

C. Efficacy & Protection

A. We are passing through Covid19 pandemic. COVID-19 has caused social disruption, economic downturn and significant number of deaths. To control this pandemic, the society as well as the system may have to take steps which may also be termed as drastic. Both pre-clinical and clinical data (complete data for Phase I and II, and partial data for Phase III of Covaxin have been thoroughly scrutinized by the regulators. This data shows that the vaccine is safe and induces a robust antibody response. However, to what extent the vaccine will protect the recipients from getting the disease is not fully known yet. Therefore, the regulators have allowed its use in trial mode.

A. The way we do in a clinical trial phase: first, the recipient will be asked to give a written consent. Additionally, the recipient will be followed up actively to see if the vaccine has led to any side effects. In short, it will be an extension of the Phase 3 trial. But in this, the person would know that he or she has received the vaccine, and not the placebo. It is completely voluntary.

A. Developing a vaccine generally involves years of research. First, we need a vaccine candidate that is evaluated in animals for its safety and efficacy. After a vaccine candidate passes a pre- clinical trial, it enters the clinical trial phase. While scientists have worked round the clock in the laboratory, even regulatory approvals which used to take several months have been fast tracked. It helped eliminate all the time lapses between the pre-clinical and clinical trial stages. Earlier, the vaccine development involved a series of steps, but in the case of the coronavirus vaccine, the scientists and regulators worked in tandem, accelerating the whole process without compromises on any protocols and any step.

A. To ensure that a vaccine is safe, we need to try it on a large number of people. The vaccine developers have not reduced the sample size at any stage of clinical trials rather it was bigger than what we usually test a vaccine on. When a vaccine is tested, most of the adverse events or unwanted effects, if any, occur in the first four to six weeks of its administration. So, in order to ensure that it is safe, we keep a close watch, for the first two-three months, on the people it has been given to. This data help us decide if a vaccine is safe. All concerned in the line of vaccine development, testing and evaluation have followed these procedures to the T. Both Indian vaccines are considered safe on this yardstick.

As for the efficacy of the vaccine, we need time to tell how effective a vaccine is. All the global agencies have set the benchmark that only those vaccine candidates which show and efficacy of at least 50-60% will be considered. Most of the vaccines have shown as efficacy of 70-90% within the short period of two or three months of observation. Besides when a vaccine is given an emergency use authorizations/permission for restricted use, as in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the trial follow-up continues for one-two years to assess the total duration of protection the vaccine will provide.

A. Yes, it is absolutely necessary that everyone who has received the COVID vaccine should continue to follow the COVID appropriate behaviour i.e., mask, do gaj ki doori and hand sanitization to protect themselves and those around from spreading the infection.

A. Longevity of the immune response in vaccinated individuals is yet to be determined. Hence, continuing the use of masks, handwashing, physical distancing and other COVID-19 appropriate behaviours is strongly recommended.

A. The body responds to vaccination by making more than one type of antibodies to virus parts including spike protein. Therefore, all vaccines are expected to provide reasonable amount of protection against the mutated virus also. Based on the available data the mutations as reported are unlikely to make the vaccine ineffective.

A. There is no head-to-head comparison done between the two vaccines being used in India so one cannot choose one over the another. Both would work fine in preventing the infection as well as prevent a person from going into severe state of the disease. As a long-term effect, it would be preventing death for elderly people or those who have co-morbidities.

A. Adequate immune response takes 2-3 weeks after completion of entire vaccination schedule i.e., after the second dose of COVISHIELD® and COVAXIN®.

A. When an increasing number of people get vaccinated in the community, indirect protection through herd immunity develops.

The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, its 95% for measles, however the proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known.

D. Side-Effects

Covishield®: Some mild symptoms may occur like injection site tenderness, injection site pain, headache, fatigue, myalgia, malaise, pyrexia, chills and arthralgia, nausea. Very rare events of demyelinating disorders have been reported following vaccination with this vaccine but without the causal relationship establishment.

Covaxin®: Some mild symptoms AEFIs may occur like injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, body ache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dizziness-giddiness, tremor, sweating, cold, cough and injection site swelling. No other vaccine-related serious adverse effects have been reported.

  1. Contraindication
    1. Persons with history of :
      • Anaphylactic or allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine
      • Immediate or delayed-onset anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food-items etc.
    2. Pregnancy & Lactation :
      • Pregnant & Lactating women have not been part of any COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial so far. Therefore, women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy; and lactating women should not receive COVID-19 vaccine at this time
  2. Provisional / temporary contraindications: In these conditions, COVID vaccination is to be deferred for 4-8 weeks after recovery
    • Persons having active symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    • SARS-COV-2 patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma
    • Acutely unwell and hospitalized (with or without intensive care) patients due to any illness.

A. In case of minor adverse effects such as injection site pain, tenderness, malaise, pyrexia, etc., paracetamol may be used to alleviate the symptoms.

A. As per experts, there is no evidence of alcohol impairing the effectiveness of the vaccine.

A. Rumours or social media posts suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines could cause infertility are not true and totally baseless. Such rumours were floated in the past against other vaccines also e.g. polio and measles. None of the available vaccines affects fertility. All vaccines and their constituents are tested first on animals and later in humans to assess if they have any such side effects. Vaccines are authorized for use only after their safety and efficacy is assured.

E. Precautions

A. Both the vaccines are safe but in case of any discomfort or complaint, ask the beneficiary to visit the nearest health facility and/or call the health worker whose phone number is given in the COWIN SMS received after vaccination.

A. Overall, the vaccine is safe and efficacious in adults with comorbidity. The maximum benefit of getting the COVID vaccine is for those who have such co-morbidities. However, if you are concerned for any specific reason, please consult your doctor.

A. Currently, there is no such instruction. One can take one’s regular medication uninterruptedly. Just inform the vaccinator about the medicines you consume.

A. There are a few bleeding disorders like 'haemophilia'. These persons should take the vaccine under the supervision of their treating physician. Patients who are admitted in hospital or ICU and have bleeding problems should delay the vaccination till they are discharged. However, several people with heart and brain disorders are on blood thinners like aspirin and anti- platelet drugs. They can continue with their medicines and have the vaccines. For them, vaccines are absolutely safe.

A. Immune issues are of two types: one, immunosuppression due to any disease such as AIDS, and people on immunosuppressant drugs such as anti-cancer drugs, steroids, etc. Second, immunodeficiency in people who suffers from some defect in the body's protective system such as congenital immunodeficiency.

Currently, available COVID vaccines do not have any live virus and therefore individuals with immune issues can have the vaccine safely. But the vaccine may not be as effective in them. One should inform the vaccinator about the medicines they consume and if they are suffering from any known immune issues. The vaccinator should have a record of one’s medical condition.

A. Development of immunity or duration of protection after COVID-19 exposure is not established therefore it is recommended to receive vaccine even after COVID-19 infection. Wait for 4-8 weeks after recovery from COVID symptoms before getting the vaccine.

A. Chronic diseases and morbidities like the Cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, pulmonary, metabolic, renal and malignancies etc. are not contraindicated. In fact, the benefit of COVID vaccines to reduce the risk of severe COVID disease and death is for those who have these co- morbidities.

F. Follow-up & Booster

A. As the vaccines available are not interchangeable, it is important to receive the second dose of same vaccine as the first one. The COWIN app is also going to help to ensure that everyone receives the same vaccine.

A. The duration of protection is yet to be established.

A. Requirement of booster dose is yet to be determined.

A. Yes, a provisional certificate would be provided after the first dose. On completion of second dose, when you receive the message for completion of schedule it would include a link to download digital certificate of vaccination for your perusal. This certificate can be then be saved in the digi-locker.

A. Yes, vaccine trials are under different stages of finalization. Government of India is geared to launch a vaccine for COVID 19 soon. For more information and updates visit http://www.mohfw.gov.in/

A. Based on the potential availability of vaccines the Government of India has selected the priority groups who will be vaccinated on priority as they are at higher risk.

The first group includes healthcare and frontline workers. The second group to receive COVID 19 vaccine will be persons over 50 years of age and persons under 50 years with comorbid conditions

A. Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.

A. Vaccines will be introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy.

A. Person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to others at vaccination site. For this reason, infected individuals should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptoms resolution.

A. Yes, it is advisable to receive complete schedule of COVID vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19. This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.

A. The safety and efficacy data from clinical trials of vaccine candidates are examined by Drug regulator of our country before granting the license for the same. Hence, all the COVID-19 vaccines that receive license will have comparable safety and efficacy.

However, it must be ensured that the entire schedule of vaccination is completed by only one type of vaccine as different COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable.

A. India runs one of the largest Immunization programme in the world, catering to the vaccination needs of more than 26 million newborns and 29 million pregnant women. The programme mechanisms are being strengthened / geared up to effectively cater to the country’s large and diverse population.

A. Yes. The COVID 19 vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries. Various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy.

A. In the initial phase, COVID 19 vaccine will be provided to the priority group- Health Care and Front-line workers.

The 50 plus age group may also begin early based on vaccine availability.

The eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile number regarding the Health Facility where the vaccination will be provided and the scheduled time for the same. This will be done to avoid any inconvenience in registration and vaccination of beneficiaries.

A. No, registration of beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination for COVID 19. Only after registration the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared with the beneficiary.

A. Any of the below mentioned ID with Photo may be produced at the time of registration:

  • Driving License
  • Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) Job Card
  • Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs
  • PAN Card
  • Passbooks issued by Bank/Post Office
  • Passport
  • Pension Document
  • Service Identity Card issued to employees by Central/ State Govt./ Public Limited Companies
  • Voter ID

A. The Photo ID produced at the time of registration must be produced and verified at the time of vaccination.

A. Photo ID is a must for both registration and verification of beneficiary at session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated.

A. Following online registration, beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number on the due date, place and time of vaccination.

A. Yes. On getting due dose of COVID 19 vaccine, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number.

After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number of the beneficiary.

A. Yes. Persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered high risk category. They need to get COVID -19 vaccination.

A. We request you to rest at the vaccination centre for atleast half an hour after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Inform the nearest health authorities / ANM / ASHA in case you feel any discomfort or uneasiness subsequently.

Remember to continue following key COVID Appropriate Behaviours like wearing of mask, maintaining hand sanitization and physical distance (or 6 feet or Do Gaj).

A. COVID Vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven. As is true for other vaccines, the common side effects in some individuals could be mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection.

States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any Covid-19 vaccine-related side-effects as one of the measures towards safe vaccine delivery among masses.

A. Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule.

A. Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

A. Government of India has prioritised the most at risk/high risk groups which will get the vaccine first. Healthcare providers have led the battle against COVID 19 from the front. The government wantsyou to be able to continue your work, without the fear of risk associated with the virus. Therefore, healthcare and frontline workers are among the first group of people to be vaccinated in the country.

A. Based on the potential availability of vaccines the Government of India has selected the priority groups who will be vaccinated on priority as they are at higher risk.

The first group includes healthcare workers because they are at high risk of contracting the infection and protecting them helps to sustain essential health services. The vaccination of frontline workers will help in reducing the societal and economic impact by reducing COVID-19 mortalities. The next group to receive COVID-19 vaccine will be persons over 50 years of age and persons under 50 years with comorbid conditions because there is high mortality in this category.

The reason for including more than 50 years of age group for vaccination is that it will be able to cover 78% of persons having co-morbidities and thereby reduce mortality on account of COVID-19.

More than 50 years of age group is divided into two sub groups. One sub group is 60 years and above, they will be vaccinated first. Second subgroup is between 50 to 60 years age group, they will be vaccinated after the first sub group is covered.

The vaccination may not be sequential. It can go in parallel for all beneficiaries depending on the availability of the vaccine.

A. Due to the limited vaccine supply in the initial phase, it will first be provided to people who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In subsequent phases the COVID 19 vaccine will be made available to all others in need of the same.

A. Yes. Safety and efficacy of vaccine will be ensured through various phases of vaccine trials and only then a vaccine will be introduced.

A. Even after receiving the COVID 19 vaccine, we must continue taking all precautions like use of face cover or masks, hand sanitization and maintain distancing (6 feet or Do Gaj). These behaviours must be followed both at the session site and in general.

A. The COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective but may have minor side effects like fever, pain, etc. at the injection site. These effects can happen in any vaccine.

A. Corona viruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

A. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered corona virus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

A. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don't develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

A. People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air. See previous answer on "How does COVID-19 spread?"

Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?

The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak. The ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share new findings. Because this is a risk, however, it is another reason to clean hands regularly, after using the bathroom and before eating.

A. Protection measures for everyone

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the national,state and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcoholbased hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
    Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
    Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease. Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreadingstrong>

  • Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)
  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
    Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

A. The risk depends on where you are - and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.

For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It's important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go.

A. Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.

We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

A. While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes)  appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

A. No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.

A. While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease. We does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. We will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available.

A. Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing

A. No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases they cause are quite different.

SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19.

There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.

A. Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so We urge people to use masks wisely.

We advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and mis-use of masks The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.

A.

  1. Remember, a mask should only be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough.
  2. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  3. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  4. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  5. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).
  6. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  7. Pull down the mask's bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin.
  8. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  9. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  10. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

A. The "incubation period" means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.

A. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.

To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products.

A. While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.

We continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID19 topics and will update as new findings are available.

A. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other corona viruses. Studies suggest that corona viruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

A. Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.

A. The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful:

  • Smoking
  • Wearing multiple masks
  • Taking antibiotics (See question 10 "Are there any medicines of therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?")

In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care earlystrong> to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.