Following WHO’s (World Health Organization) bias against Covaxin, Bharat’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, Bharat has toughened its stance.
Bias of WHO towards Covaxin
WHO has been dillydallying on approving Bharat’s indigenous Covaxin developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist stated that the technical advisory committee has postponed its meeting and would now be meeting only on October 26 to decide the future course of action in connection with emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covaxin.
It must be noted that a meeting between an independent group of experts and WHO was to take place earlier this month. As per reports, the risk/benefit assessment was to be undertaken during the said meeting following which a final decision was to be made with regards to approval of Covaxin. But the international body continued to stall the meeting as it has been doing over the past few months.
It appears that the global health organization is purposely delaying approval for Covaxin since by its own admission, Bharat Biotech has already supplied all the required information sought by it. “Covaxin manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, has been submitting data to WHO on a rolling basis & submitted additional info at WHO’s request on 27 September. WHO experts are currently reviewing this info & if it addresses all questions raised, WHO assessment will be finalized next week”, says TFI.
It is pertinent to note that the agency had said that it could not “cut corners” to approve a domestically developed vaccine. However, the same body had approved Sinopharm Chinese vaccine for emergency use within just 10 days. It must also be noted that the emergency use listing (EUL) to Sinopharm was awarded merely on the basis of interim data.
Bharat has now toughened its stance and according to a Reuters report, the Bharatiya government has delayed committing vaccine supply to the COVAX global sharing effort. This decision must be seen as a response to the dillydallying by WHO despite the fact that Covaxin is more effective in fighting various strains of Covid at a relatively lower cost than Pfizer and Moderna.
Slander against Covaxin
Ever since Bharat Biotech brought out the vaccine it has been faced with slander even at home from various quarters including media, opposition politicians and individuals harboring personal bias against PM Modi.
Besides netas like Akhilesh Yadav, Shashi Tharoor, Mamata Banerjee industrialists like Rajiv Bajaj, ‘cartoonists’ like Satish Acharya, media houses like The Print and others have also been at the forefront of slandering Covaxin thereby promoting vaccine hesitancy just because they wanted Bharat’s vaccine program to flop out of their hatred for PM Modi.
Media headlines were all about how ‘hasty approval’ had been given to Bharat’s indigenous vaccines.
The media as usual resorted to half-truths in order to mislead the public regarding Covaxin and also insinuate that the Bharatiya government had been hasty in approving the indigenous vaccine. In yet another hit job, the Economic Times article dated 24 June talks about how Covaxin is unlikely to get full approval until next year despite the fact that all vaccines had only been granted emergency approval.
Similarly, Congress was also caught indulging in a misinformation campaign in order to discredit Covaxin. Congress IT cell workers started spreading a rumor that the indigenous vaccine Covaxin contains calf serum. The party’s IT cell leader Gaurav Pandhi shared an RTI reply from the government about the ingredients of Covaxin, saying it contains Newborn Calf Serum (NBCS).
Other naysayers included Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav who announced that he would not be taking the “BJP’s vaccine”. According to Congress leader Sashi Tharoor, the vaccines have been prematurely approved and he stated that this could be dangerous. Then there was the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum headed by one Harjit Singh Bhatti which has not only raised questions on the approvals for the two vaccines but also demanded a rollback for the same.