Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

No Fundamental Rights Of Petitioner Infringed: Govt Responds To Plea Challenging 84 Days Dose Interval For Covishield Vaccines

Hannah M Varghese
3 Sep 2021 8:55 AM GMT
No Fundamental Rights Of Petitioner Infringed: Govt Responds To Plea Challenging 84 Days Dose Interval For Covishield Vaccines
x

The Secretary to the Government submitted its counter-affidavit before the Kerala High Court on Thursday responding to the petition that challenged the prescribed 84 days gap between administering two doses of the Covishield vaccine. Assistant Solicitor General P. Vijayakumar representing the respondent submitted that India's National COVID Vaccination Program was built...

The Secretary to the Government submitted its counter-affidavit before the Kerala High Court on Thursday responding to the petition that challenged the prescribed 84 days gap between administering two doses of the Covishield vaccine.  

Assistant Solicitor General P. Vijayakumar representing the respondent submitted that India's National COVID Vaccination Program was built on scientific and epidemiological evidence, WHO guidelines and global best practices.

Accordingly, it was argued that the dose interval between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine under the COVID-19 vaccination drive had undergone a series of revisions based on the available and emerging scientific evidence mentioned above with the overall guidance of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

Therefore, based on the recommendations by NEGVAC, the schedule of the Covishield vaccine under the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme is to administer the second dose at 12-16 weeks interval (i.e., after 84 days), after administration of the first dose. 

This is based on the technical opinion that the duration of 84 days between 1st and 2nd doses of Covishield is providing the best protection against Covid-19.

However, the statement admitted that to provide full vaccination coverage and facilitate international travel for genuine reasons, it was decided to allow the second dose before the prescribed time period of 12-16 weeks.

The petitioner had contended that such prioritisation was discriminative in nature. The respondent in its statement attempted to justify its decision to deviate from the mandatory 84 days interval for certain classes. 

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare received several representations for allowing early administration of the second dose of Covishield for people planning to undertake international travel for educational purposes, employment opportunities or for part of India's contingent for the Tokyo Olympic Games, but whose planned travel dates fall prior to completion of the mandated minimum interval of 84 days from the date of the first dose.

This matter was later iscussed in Empowered Group 5 and appropriate recommendations were received.

In this context, to providing full coverage of vaccination and facilitating international travel for such genuine reasons, on 7th June 2021, directions were released by the Ministry for the administration of the second dose of Covishield vaccine prior to the prescribed time interval for certain beneficiaries. 

Nevertheless, they also agreed that as per the evidence available, the immunity provided by 2 doses of the Covishield vaccine with intervals less than 12-16 weeks would be better than partial vaccination (single dose).

The respondent emphasised that the decision to increase the dose interval of the Covishield vaccine was based on scientific evidence and expert opinion as per available efficacy data.

Therefore, it was contended that no fundamental or statutory rights of the petitioner were infringed by the same.

Accordingly, it was submitted that the grounds advanced by the petitioner in the writ petition were false and frivolous, hence deserves to be dismissed. They alleged that the petition was totally misconceived/devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed in the interest of justice.

The development ensued in a plea filed by Kitex stating that it had already vaccinated more than 5,000 of its workers with the first dose and had arranged for the second dose but was unable to administer the same due to the restriction of the prescribed gap of 84 days between the two jabs.

The petitioner had also implied that the delay in administering the second dose could be contributing to the uncontrollable spike in Covid positive cases in the State. Advocate Blaze K Jose had appeared on behalf of the petitioner.


Case Title: Kitex Garments Ltd v. State of Kerala

Next Story