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“Indians Not Guinea Pigs”: Congress Hits Out At Centre Over Covaxin Rollout

The Modi government has touted the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, as a key example of India’s indigenous manufacturing. 

Even as the Indian government goes full-steam ahead with the mass inoculation programme, the controversy around Covaxin, one of the two anti-COVID-19 vaccines India will deploy to fight back the pandemic, refuses to die. After the vaccine manufacture by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech was carried to Delhi and 10 other cities this morning, the Congress party sounded another note of caution citing the Centre’s supposed flip-flop on its administration.

The Modi government has touted the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, as a key example of India’s indigenous manufacturing and medical research muscle besides being a veritable example of the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India), another flagship programme of Mr Modi.

The vaccine, however,  is yet to clear its phase-III trials, due to which the government had earlier said it was to be used only in case of emergency as a secondary option.

Despite that, a PTI report yesterday quoted Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan as saying that such a choice won’t be available to Indians immediately.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, told news agency ANI today: “Now the government is saying recipients won’t be able to pick and choose the vaccine…When phase 3 trials of Covaxin is not complete, it raises various concerns on its efficacy.”

Mr Tewari said: “You can’t use rollout as phase 3 trial, Indians are not guinea pigs. Till yesterday NDA/BJP claimed Covaxin has been cleared for emergency use.”

Earlier on January 11, tagging Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Mr Tewari had tweeted asking if Bharat Biotech’s vaccine was safe for human use and if the government could guarantee its safety and efficacy.

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