The controversy around Covaxin, one of the two anti-COVID-19 vaccines India will deploy to fight back the pandemic, refuses to die even as the Indian government goes full-steam ahead with the mass inoculation programme. As Bharat Biotech's product was carried to Delhi and 10 other cities this morning, the Congress party sounded another note of caution citing the Centre's supposed flip-flop on its administration.
The vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based company in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, has been touted as a key example of India's indigenous manufacturing and medical research muscle besides being a veritable example of the success of Make in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship programme.
However, the vaccine is yet to clear its phase-III trials, due to which the government had earlier said it was to be used only in case of emergency as a secondary option.
Yet, a PTI report yesterday quoted Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan to say that such a choice won't be available to Indians immediately.
"Now the government is saying recipients won't be able to pick and choose the vaccine…When phase 3 trials of Covaxin is not complete, it raises various concerns on its efficacy," Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson and Sri Anandpur Sahib MP, told ANI today.
"You can't use rollout as phase 3 trial, Indians are not guinea pigs," Mr Tewari said. "Till yesterday NDA/BJP claimed Covaxin has been cleared for emergency use."
On January 11, tagging Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Mr Tewari had tweeted asking if Bharat Biotech's vaccine was safe for human use and if the government could guarantee its safety and efficacy.
Is Bharath Biotech vaccine safe for human use?— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) January 11, 2021
Can govt guarantee both it's safety and efficacy?
Aren't palliatives for emergency use & vaccines a preventive measure?
Can vaccine be a palliative?@drharshvardhanhttps://t.co/YFXxeHehjlpic.twitter.com/Ph1QpyZm0G