Since the government has not provided an officer who can answer questions from the press on the Centre’s decision, here are ten questions that the health ministry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should answer.
New Delhi: Amid fears of a third wave of COVID-19 and rising cases of the new form of the virus in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (December 25) announced that from January 3 next year, adolescents between the ages of 15 and 18 years Vaccination campaign will be started for
Since the government did not provide an official who could answer press questions on the decision, here are 10 questions that the health ministry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should answer.
1. On December 24, the head of India’s vaccination campaign Vinod K. Paul, Indian Council of Medical Research chief Balram Bhargava and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said in a press conference that their decisions are based on science and as of now there is no scientific basis for the need for child vaccination. In such a situation, should it be assumed that between the evening of December 24 and the night of December 25, science has suddenly changed? If yes, what exactly changed?
2. What vaccines will frontline workers, healthcare workers and the elderly receive as a booster dose? On 24 December, Paul, Bhargava and Bhushan acknowledged that no studies have yet been conducted on the efficacy of Covaccine or its benefits as a booster dose. So what would be the rationale for these decisions?
Appendix: Why has there been a delay in the emergency-approval for the Kovavax vaccine filed by Serum Institute? Kovovax is developed by Novavax and CEPI and Novavax transferred its technology to Serum. This question arises because WHO has already listed Kovavax for emergency use. Apart from this, a study from England states that two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine is equivalent to Kovavax and India is already exporting Kovavax.
3. Did the Indian government wait until the drug regulator approved Covaccine for this age group to change its policy on immunization of adolescents? Because the government approved the ZyCoV-D of Zydus Cadila for adolescents in August and the evidence that children need to be vaccinated has not changed significantly since then.
4. More worryingly, did the Indian government change its policy on immunization of adolescents simply because the drug regulator approved Covaccine for this age group?
5. Bharat Biotech, the company that makes the vaccine, has said that it has prepared the vaccine in such a way that the same dose works for those aged 15-18 years and above. How will this change the company’s manufacturing and supply calculations? Will the existing stock be sent for immunization of adolescents from January 3, 2022?
6. Bharat Biotech reportedly submitted data from Phase 2/3 trials of Covaccine for people aged 15-18 years to the Drug Controller General. Is this data in the public domain for independent verification? Or will we be shown the documents after immunization of thousands and millions of children?
Appendix: What about the deliberations of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 and the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) – all of which should have reflected the direction of the drug regulator’s decision?
7. The drug regulator has approved another vaccine ‘ZyCoV-D’, developed by Zydus Cadila, for people aged 12-18 years. Its Phase III trial data is also not available in the public domain. Why?
8. Why is a doctor’s certificate necessary for elderly citizens to receive a booster dose, while adolescents can receive the primary dose directly? Whereas the scientific evidence is to the contrary: that the effect of the corona virus on older people is very bad, especially if you are 60+, while the spread of the disease among children has been very low.
Remember that the primary outcome of vaccines is to prevent serious disease and reduce its spread by better designing and implementing COVID-appropriate practices.
9. What if the parent opposes the vaccine, but their child wants to be vaccinated or vice versa? If one parent supports it and the other opposes the vaccine, how will the decision to get the vaccine be made? UK A test called Gillick competence is taken to mediate such cases.
10. Why is the prime minister announcing the expansion of the immunization program, as opposed to representatives of epidemiology and vaccination enterprises?
Why is the Prime Minister making announcements on health-related topics when knowledgeable officials should come forward, who can answer questions from journalists and independent experts. (We may know the answer, but we must ask nonetheless.)
(Click here to read this report in English.)
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Categories: COVID-19, India, Special