Opposition-ruled states raise safety concerns over vaccine

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By Economic Times – Opposition-ruled states raise safety concerns over vaccine New Delhi: Opposition-ruled states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Punjab have raised concerns over Covid vaccine safety and questioned what they say is the rushed manner in which the inoculation drive is being pushed. The Centre has indicated that the campaign could start as early as January 13. Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh has refused to accept Bharat Biotech’s indigenously developed Covaxin without proper phase 3 trial data.

“We won’t be able to accept Covaxin till we have proper data on its efficacy and safety,” Chhattisgarh health minister TS Singh Deo told ET. “We don’t understand how the government could pass it in such a hurry. What was the need when we had one vaccine ready? It won’t be safe to administer Covaxin without the phase 3 trials being completed.” Singh Deo was referring to Serum Institute of India (SII) vaccine Covishield, which is based on AstraZeneca-Oxford University technology.

Chhattisgarh has sought clarity from the Centre on which vaccine will be sent to the state and how much. The coalition government admin led by the Jharkhand Mukti Moristration of vaccine in Coimbatore cha (JMM) has queried the hasty rollout. “There is no clarity on which vaccine will come first. The vaccine hasn’t been tested fully,” said Jharkhand health minister Banna Gupta. “We don’t know why the Centre is hurriedly rolling out the vaccine. We cannot allow health workers to be turned into laboratory animals for experiments. We need proper information on what vaccine, in how much quantum are we getting.” Jharkhand also wants the vaccines to be free.

“They announced in Bihar that it would be free of cost. So why not for neighbouring Jharkhand also? All states need to be treated fairly and equally,” Gupta said. The Congress government in Rajasthan cited the lack of data on Covaxin and pointed to the war of words between Bharat Biotech and SII. To be sure, the companies did subsequently issue a joint statement burying their differences. “Just after the vaccines were passed by the Centre, the way the two companies behaved has shaken the confidence of people,” Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma said.

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