Gehlot seeks PM Modi's intervention in COVID-19 vaccine row

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Jaipur, Jan 5 (PTI) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said the exchange of remarks between the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech over their COVID-19 vaccines is “unfortunate”, and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention.

Taking to Twitter, he said the 'bayanbaazi' (remarks) between the Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech after the approval of their vaccines by India's drug regulator, is unfortunate.

'It is a sensitive issue in which PM must intervene,' Gehlot tweeted in Hindi.

The Rajasthan CM was apparently referring to a remark by Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India (SII), in the media that seemed to question the efficacy of the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech.

India's drugs regulator had on Sunday approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.

Gehlot also said cases of new coronavirus strain (that has emerged in the United Kingdom) are increasing in India, adding that the Centre should reconsider its decision to resume flights from Britain from January 8.

'If flights from foreign countries were stopped in January, 2020 at the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak, this situation probably would not have happened today,' he said in a series of tweets.

The chief minister said the central government must ensure that after resuming the flights from Britain, the new COVID strain does not spread like the current one.

'I appeal to all who have come back from Britain in the recent times, should come further for their corona test to prevent this new strain from spreading further,” he tweeted.