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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Opposition and individuals with personal biases against Modi govt are disparaging Bharat’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccines

The efforts of Bharatiya scientists who have developed the indigenous vaccines to fight the Chinese Virus are being dissed by certain sections of the society who harbour a deep-seated hatred for the Modi government.

As Bharat gets ready for the world’s largest vaccination programme, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) rejected the rumours of the vaccines being unsafe for the general public. The DCGI said, “We will never approve anything if there is even slightest safety concern. Vaccines are 110 per cent safe. Some side effects such as mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine. The rumours of vaccines being unsafe are complete nonsense”.

Dissenters who are dissing the vaccines

Despite assurances from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the anti-Modi lobby still questions the efficacy of the vaccines in a bid to create distrust among the public against the Centre. From the time the central government approved two Chinese Virus vaccines for emergency use, several people from politicians to journalists and even so-called doctors and scientists who have nothing but contempt for PM Modi are up in arms against it. The BBC India even ran an article questioning the need for the hurried approvals by the authorities.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, another member of the anti-Modi lobby and a Dhruv Rathee fan, also raised questions on the vaccines approved by the Bharatiya government. Dr Kang wanted to know how the government approved a vaccine that was on trial. “I have no clue. I have never seen anything like this before,” said Dr Kang.

Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav has already 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 is 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.

DGCI’s statement on the vaccines

However, there are ample reasons to believe that these statements are being made more out of hatred for one person and are politically motivated rather than any concrete reason-based opposition. The DGCI issued a detailed press statement dispelling these unfounded concerns.

Vaccines

In its statement, the DGCI has mentioned that a subject expert committee comprising of domain experts belonging to the fields of pulmonology, immunology, pharmacology etc have given restricted emergency approval to the vaccines prepared by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech (BB).

The DGCI has attested the safety and efficacy of the vaccines while adding that SII will continue clinical trials and both Covishield by SII and Covaxin by BB have undertaken extensive trials in Phase I and II with Phase III trials underway.

Besides, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has approved the vaccines only after the subject expert committee reviewed the clinical trial data from the companies. It must be mentioned here that these vaccines have been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situation keeping the public interest in view.

While Covaxin was tested on animals in the first two phases, its Phase III human trials have already covered 22500 from about 25000 candidates selected for the trials which essentially means almost 90% of the trial subjects have been covered. The accusations of hasty approvals, therefore, hold no merit.

Furthermore, BB and America’s Ocugen have signed a letter of intent for co-developing the vaccine for the US market in addition to the company initiating talks with almost 10 other countries across the globe. Bharat Biotech CMD Dr Krishna Ella addressed a press conference to point out how Bharatiya Companies were being unfairly targeted.

While stating that the company was in no way inferior to Pfizer he added that in addition to conducting trials in more than 12 countries other than Bharat, it has already published 70 articles in various international journals of which five are on the vaccine process itself.

Views of experts on the vaccines

There have been accusations of hurried approvals being given for the vaccines. However, the former head of the Centre for Advanced Research in Virology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Jacob John in an interview to the media said that the DGCI did not arbitrarily decide to approve the vaccines but that a panel of subject experts held lengthy hours of discussion before giving the final nod.

He also opined that at this stage the priority should be the frontline workers, who are likely to receive the vaccines first, must be afforded protection considering the high risks involved. According to him, efficacy is a promise for the future and these emergency approvals are only to ensure the safety of high-risk candidates while adding that even Russia has given emergency authorisation that too without efficacy data.

Hindupost reached out to Dr Amit Thadhani, consulting general surgeon and Director, Niramaya Hospital Navi Mumbai for his views on the vaccines and BB‘s Covaxin trials in Bharat. Dr Thadhani was of the opinion that the Covaxin trials were undertaken at a comparatively larger scale with close to 90% of the trial candidates receiving the shots.

The trials were conducted in a systematic manner with monitoring mechanisms put in place and no major adverse reaction was found among those who had been administered the doses. He also added that the trials are to be conducted over a large sample size of 25800 volunteers when we spoke to him a couple of days ago. As per the latest update, BB has completed its Phase III trials.

Vaccines

AstraZeneca which is collaborating with SII conducted trials in the UK on a sample size of 1600 candidates and 1700 volunteers in Bharat). He said that the expert panel which approved the vaccines consists of knowledgable people who are subject experts.

On the whole, Bharat’s efforts in producing these vaccines are commendable considering the urgency. Naysayers have turned Modi-hate into hatred for everything indigenous.

(Featured Image Source: IANS Twitter Page)


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