Congress MP Manish Tewari on Wednesday raised more questions on the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, a day after the Centre indicated that states and beneficiaries will not have an option to choose between the two approved vaccines. Experts and Congress leaders have questioned the government’s decision to clear Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, Covaxin, without the pharmaceutical company completing its phase-3 human trials.
“Till yesterday NDA/BJP [National Democratic Alliance/Bharatiya Janata Party] claimed Covaxin has been cleared for emergency use,” Tewari tweeted. “Today by not allowing [the] recipient to pick [a] vaccine of his choice is NDA/BJP making Guinea pigs out of Indians? Is roll out THE REAL Phase-3 Trial of Covaxin?”
Tewari told ANI that the Centre should not roll out Covaxin till its efficacy and reliability is completely established and the Phase 3 trials are over. The Congress MP said that the government should act in a manner such that the people have complete confidence in it. “You can’t use rollout as phase 3 trial, Indians are not guinea pigs,” he reiterated.
On Tuesday, the Congress MP asked the Centre if it can guarantee the safety and efficacy of the Bharat Biotech vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research. “Aren’t palliatives for emergency use & vaccines a preventive measure?” he said in a tweet. “Can vaccine be a palliative?” The palliative term refers to a medicine or medical treatment that reduces pain or the symptoms of a disease without providing a cure.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had hinted at the Centre’s decision to not allow an option to choose between the vaccines. “Many countries are using more than one vaccine,” Bhushan said. “There is no such option available to the beneficiaries in any country.” The second vaccine approved by India is Serum Institute of India’s Covishield.
The Drugs Controller General of India had approved Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s vaccines for emergency use on January 3. On Tuesday, the Union health ministry had announced that it has signed an agreement with Bharat Biotech to procure 55 lakh doses of its coronavirus vaccine. The first consignment of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine arrived in Delhi on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, India on Wednesday registered 15,968 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,04,95,147. The toll rose by 202 to 1,51,529. The active cases remained below 3 lakh at 2,14,507 for the 23nd consecutive day, while the number of recoveries reached 1,01,29,111. India’s recovery rate is now 96.51%.