The Delhi High Court on Friday directed India’s coronavirus vaccine producers – Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech – to disclose their capacity to manufacture their Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, Live Law reported. The pharmaceutical firms were asked to file their responses within a week.
Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli were hearing a suo motu petition seeking to include judicial staff, advocates and judges as frontline workers during the country’s vaccination drive.
During the hearing, the court observed that there needed to be a “sense of urgency” when it came to vaccinating citizens. “When these two institutes [Serum and Bharat Biotech] say that we have the capacity, why is it that their capacity is not exploited to the fullest?” the High Court asked. “We are either donating or selling off the vaccines to other countries, without looking at our own needs.”
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said lawyers “are definitely frontline workers” and must be treated as such. “But having vaccines is one thing, but to translate it into something injectable is another,” he added. “Cold storages are there.”
The court agreed that logistics is an issue. “But are we utilising these also completely, is there a bottleneck?” it asked.
The bench said that both the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have submitted that they have an excess capacity to produce vaccines. “Let them file affidavits clarifying [it],” the court added.
The drugmakers were asked to indicate their capacity to produce vaccines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. They were also directed to mention their current production capacity and how much further they could scale up production in the future.
The High Court also asked the Delhi government to carry out an inspection of the medical facilities available in court complexes in the Capital, and to report if coronavirus vaccination centres could be set up there.
Separately, it asked the Centre to explain in affidavit to show the classification of persons who can be administered the vaccine in various phases, and the rationale behind the same. The affidavits should indicate how many judicial officers would be covered under the existing policy, the court said.
Additionally, the central government was also asked to give details about the current transport and cold storage capacities, and the extent to which the same is being presently utilised.
India began the second phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive on March 1. In this phase, people above 60 years of age, and those who are 45 or more and suffering from comorbidities, are now eligible for the vaccinations. This is free at government facilities, while private centres are offering it at a capped price of Rs 250 per dose.
Around 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat, more than 600 hospitals under the Central Government Health Scheme, and other private hospitals enrolled under state schemes were designated as vaccination centres.