5 Oct 2021 1:38 PM GMT
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the absence of the provisions of voluntary re-vaccination for persons who have been administered CoVAXIN in the present system of COVID-19 vaccination. Preferred by Kartik Seth, an advocate practising in the Supreme Court of India, the PIL states that under the present scenario, a person is...
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the absence of the provisions of voluntary re-vaccination for persons who have been administered CoVAXIN in the present system of COVID-19 vaccination.
Preferred by Kartik Seth, an advocate practising in the Supreme Court of India, the PIL states that under the present scenario, a person is not allowed/permitted to get vaccinated with Covishield by registering on the official website of Government of India, "COWIN" after having been fully vaccinated with COVAXIN.
It is pointed out in the petition that all the individuals fully vaccinated with COVAXIN are being treated by all major countries as un-vaccinated individuals and are made to either quarantine or are not completely allowed within their borders. This is due to the lack of WHO approval for the home-grown vaccine.
"There has been a major latent lacuna in the entire vaccination system across the country which involves lack of awareness attributable to the respondents mainly. The respondents, at the time of rolling out of COVAXIN for use in the market, failed to make the public aware that it was not approved by the WHO and that it had not even submitted an application before WHO for approval which was submitted as late as in April, 2021. It was only in May, 2021 (five months after the commencement of vaccination drive) that it rolled out into the news that several nations are not allowing entry of people vaccinated with vaccines other than those enlisted in WHO's emergency use list. Another blemish in the vaccination drive was that until 1st May, 2021 (i.e., up to the first and second phase of vaccination drive), no choice of vaccination was made available to the public in India and it was the discretion and prerogative of the Government to administer whatever vaccine was available to the persons eligible for it. It was only from 1st May, 2021 (i.e. commencement of third phase of vaccination in India) that the public was allowed to choose the vaccine as per their own wish," petition states.
It has been argued that the manufacturers of COVAXIN, Bharat Biotech and the Government of India have failed to procure/obtain the WHO's Emergency Use Listing (EUL) despite starting with the administration of COVAXIN on exactly the same date as Covishield, i.e. 16th January, 2021 when the vaccination process commenced in India.
To highlight the shift of people from Covishield to CoVAXIN, Seth in his petition has contended that the shift was because of the endorsement by the Prime Minister and his support for the homegrown vaccine.
"It was right after Hon'ble Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi's COVAXIN vaccination that a major part of the population flocked to COVAXIN instead of Covishield as a matter of trust and ardent following of the Hon'ble Prime Minister, who as per rough data, is one of the most followed world leaders on Twitter. As a result of this apparent shift and support, more than 7 crore COVAXIN doses have been administered up to August, 2021 within India," petition further states.
Advocate Kartik Seth has also contended that another vaccine, Pfizer was granted emergency use authorisation by WHO on December 31, 2020, and the manufacturers of Pfizer were inclined to enter into the Indian market, however, entry of the same met with various hurdles created by the Government of India and eventually it was not allowed by the Government of India for reasons best known to themselves despite the fact that Pfizer had WHO approval and was proven as highly effective vaccine.
In light of the above, the petitioner has sought for issuance of directions to the concerned departments of the Union to issue and release official data, record, timeline and reasons of delay in the approval of COVAXIN vaccine developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech International Limited and to state the reason for giving approval to COVAXIN vaccine for administration to persons in India pending the results of third phase trials of the same.
Relief for issuance of directions to Bharat Biotech International Limited and ICMR for publishing actual data and records submitted to the WHO for obtaining WHO's approval in favour of CoVAXIN and issuance of statement giving detailed reasons for delaying the approval of CoVAXIN Vaccine has also been sought in the PIL.
Advocate Seth in his petition has also sought for issuance of directions to the Centre for not restraining those who wish to get Covishield administered to them at their own costs voluntarily after having already received two doses of CoVAXIN.
The PIL that has been filed through Chambers of Kartik Seth and drawn by Advocate Shriya Gilhotra has also sought for issuance of directions to the Centre and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to issue a revised Standard of Procedure and guidelines allowing re-vaccination of fully vaccinated persons with another vaccine on voluntary payment of the person at his own risks and costs.
Case Title: Kartik Seth v Union of India