Has COVAXIN got undue favour from the Government ?

Photo : india.com

Twitter war has erupted between the BJP and Congress after the government’s decision to give clearance to Bharat biotech manufactured COVAXIN. 

In a tweet, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said “ Bharat Biotech is a first-rate enterprise, but it is puzzling that internationally-accepted protocols relating to phase 3  trials are being modified for Covaxin. Health Minister @drharshvardhan should clarify.”

Adding fuel to fire, Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, tweeted “The Covaxin has not yet had Phase 3 trials. Approval was premature and could be dangerous. 

@drharshvardhan should please clarify. Its use should be avoided till full trials are over. India can start with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the meantime.” 

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan criticised Congress and other opposition leaders over their comments on Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which was cleared for emergency use in the country along with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

“Disgraceful for anyone to politicise such a critical issue. Sh @ShashiTharoor, Sh @yadavakhilesh & Sh @Jairam_Ramesh don’t try to discredit well laid out science-backed protocols followed for approving #COVID19 vaccines. Wake up & realise you are only discrediting yourselves,” Harsh Vardhan tweeted.

Meanwhile, experts have questioned the COVAXIN as it just started its phase 3 trials in November and there is no data on its clinical efficacy in the public domain. 

“I’m completely unaware of any data that suggests that Covaxin has any efficacy against any SARS-CoV-2 strain, let alone the U.K. strain,” Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said in an interview to CNBC-TV18.

“In the interest of transparency, we ask that the regulator share detailed rationale or the decision along with disclosure of data… We are baffled to understand what scientific logic has motivated top experts in the SEC (Subject Expert Committee) to approve this vaccine (Covaxin) post haste,” Malini Aisola, of the All India Drug Action Network, said in a statement.

However, Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, referred to Covaxin as a “backup vaccine” and added that it is to be used if it was not clear how efficacious the SII vaccine would be.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation on Sunday had accorded approval for restricted emergency use of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and the indigenously developed vaccine Covaxin of Bharat Biotech.

Covaxin was developed by Bharat Biotech in partnership with the ICMR-NIV. After the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) announcement approving the nod, Dr Krishna, owner of Bharat Biotech, said, “The approval of Covaxin for emergency use is a giant leap for innovation and novel product development in India. It is a proud moment for the nation and a great milestone in India’s scientific capability, a kickstart to the innovation ecosystem in India.”

Dr Krishna is part of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Union Cabinet; the Governing Councils of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology; Research Council for CSIR National Laboratories; and the Board of Visitors of the Global Health Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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