Indian health minister rejects Chhattisgarh state's demand to halt supply of Covaxin vaccines

2021-02-12 09:36:20 GMT2021-02-12 17:36:20(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

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by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

NEW DELHI, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- India's federal health minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday rejected claims made by T S Singh Deo, health minister of Chhattisgarh state, about Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, saying it was "safe and immunogenic."

Deo on Thursday shared his letter that he wrote on Jan. 21 to the federal health minister, urging him to stop the supply of Covaxin to Chhattisgarh.

In the letter, Deo wrote that there was an "inhibition/concern" among the community regarding Covaxin, which arises from the fact that clinical trials of phase 3 is yet to be completed, thus bringing forth a sense of hesitation regarding its use.

Deo further claimed that Covaxin vials did not carry expiry dates on them.

"The vial of Covaxin does not display expiry date. I would therefore request you to kindly reconsider the decision to supply Covaxin to the state of Chattisgarh and only do so after the results of clinical trial phase 3 is over and results made available," the letter read.

However, Vardhan rejected Deo's claims and early on Friday shared his letter, dated Feb. 11, written in response.

"Only those COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted permission for restricted use in emergency situations by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) i.e., Covishield and Covaxin are being used for COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country," the letter read.

He said all vaccines supplied to states are "safe and immunogenic" and "should be used expeditiously" to "rapidly confer protection to prioritized beneficiaries."

"Your concern regarding unavailability of expiry date on Covaxin vial is also completely unfounded and without basis as the same is mentioned on the label of vaccine vials," Vardhan wrote, attaching a photo of a vial with the label.

Vardhan pointed out that Chhatisgarh had been able to administer the first dose of vaccine to only 9.55 percent of its 2,09,512 front line workers, saying the coverage needs to improve significantly.

The federal health minister also questioned Deo's intentions.

Meanwhile, the Indian government on Friday said over 7.5 million people have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 since the beginning of inoculation drive on Jan. 16 across the country.

At present healthcare and frontline workers are being vaccinated.

During the initial phase, around 30 million healthcare and frontline workers will be vaccinated, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, numbering around 270 million. Enditem