During India’s first phase of rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine, where over 2 lakh people have been inoculated, health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan sought to assure the people of the country that the vaccines being rolled out in India went under best possible scientific scrutiny and people should not believe in “misinformation” being spread.
While several Congress leaders have questioned the efficacy of the vaccine, Harsh Vardhan told CNNNews18, “Honestly, I haven’t heard of any problem. Some people are raising a political problem and we are replying to them also. From the very beginning we have warned people to not be worried about this misinformation that is being spread.”
Speaking about the vaccine trials and approvals, the Union health minister said, “Vaccines have been subjected to the best possible scientific scrutiny. They have been given emergency approval by experts of the subject. And they are going to be ‘sanjeevani’ for our fight against Covid. I would once again appeal to people to not get into these apprehensions and fears.”
Harsh Vardhan said people should take the vaccine “fearlessly” and not forget the other precautions we have already been taking for Covid-19. “Fearlessly, patiently take the vaccination when your turn comes. And never forget that you have to take care of Covid appropriate behaviour. The mask is the greatest social vaccine, it is not only going to help against Covid, it protects us from many other infections.”
Congress leader Manish Tewari had raised questions over the emergency use approval given to the indigenously developed vaccine Covaxin and alleged that it was "sans due process". "As vaccine roll-out begins, it is all a bit puzzling India has no policy framework for authorising emergency use. Yet, two vaccines have been approved for restricted use in emergency situation," Tewari said in a tweet just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the vaccination drive.
"COVAXIN is another story — Approvals sans Due Process," the former Union minister added, tagging a media report which claimed that scientists and doctors are divided on the issue of restricted use approval granted to the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
When asked about Tewari's tweets, Harsh Vardhan said,"I have replied to that and will keep replying. But we want all these people to let us focus on the welfare of the people and we also went them to contribute their welfare rather than disturbing all these welfare measures by unnecessarily putting things in public domain which may confuse them."
The minister said that India had “robust experience” when it came to vaccinating large populations. “We have been giving vaccines against vaccine preventable diseases to almost 60 crore children every year. We have in this country eradicated smallpox, we have eradicated polio in the last two/three decades. Our last caste of polio was 10 years ago. And you know how difficult polio was. We had to immunise every child less than five on the same day, and keep on doing it for almost two decades."
The minister said that for the Covid-19 the planning began in August and people were trained in the national, state and block level to carry out this programme. "And we have ensured that whatever we have conveyed to the people, it's being followed."