Political Skirmish Around Indian Vaccine Warms Up
Indian Vaccine: The Covaxin vaccine is getting embroiled in domestic skirmish even before its delivery schedules have been put into place. The bone of contention is the fact that the vaccine has been granted emergency approval even before the human trials were completed.
There is communal disharmony over the contents of the vaccine. The main protagonists on surface are the Hindu and Muslim groups in India, an age-old feud that is being fueled by rival political parties.
The drug regulatory body recently gave approval for two vaccines for emergency use in India. One was Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield, while the other was Covaxin from local pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech. The latter is not being seen as a safe option as the third phase trials were still awaited and the vaccine had gone into approval stage.
An Indian Health watchdog, the All India Drug Network has also shown its surprise over such a quick decision that could prove to be fatal for the Indian population. The third stage data not being available, does leave doubts about the efficacy of the medicine and its effectiveness over the new mutated virus strain.
Narendra Modi’s risk taking abilities have not gone well with his contenders and opposition party after all. There is no evidence to prove that the vaccine has any ingredients that could hurt the religious sentiments of Hindu or Muslim citizens. While there is skirmish over Modi’s assertion that the vaccine fulfills the Indian self-reliance dream, it does bring Modi in light for probably jumping the gun.
Krishna Ella, Chairman and MD, Bharat Biotech, has defended Covaxin saying that his firm was “confident” over its use. The company, he has confirmed, should finish final-phase recruitment within “two or three days” and that Covaxin would feature in two peer reviews in international health journals on January 10. A full readout for the vaccine’s phase-three efficacy data should come between March and October, according to a slide show he presented to the media.
India is looking at vaccinating 300 million people by July 2021. A dry in 125 states was conducted to see preparedness to storing and inoculating the masses. It went smoothly. But evidence over side effects is still unclear and could pose serious panic owing to the fact that India has a hugely ill-informed and uneducated population that panics quickly.