Telangana guv hails COVID-19 vaccine development, pitches for keeping aside controversies

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Hyderabad, Jan 6 (PTI) Raising doubts over clearance for COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to create 'unfounded' panic and keeping aside controversies, people should be made partners in the world's biggest vaccination programme in the country, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan said on Wednesday.

Observing that the country was poised to emerge as a global supplier of COVID-19 vaccine, she said its role in the massive production and supply of the vaccine was crucial for public health at the global level, especially in the context of underdeveloped and developing countries, she said.

'Keeping aside all the controversies, we must prepare and make the people partner in the worlds biggest vaccination programme in our country as stated by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi,' Soundararajan, a medical doctor, said.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved Covishield, Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute, and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech here, for restricted emergency use in the country.

In an article which was shared with the media, Soundararajan said the DCGI's approval was a milestone in the country's fight against the COVID-19 and the scientists involved in developing them deserve all praise.

The scientists have made the country proud by coming out with COVID-19 vaccines with the Made in India tag. 'This is a major step from the pharmaceutical sector towards the Atma Nirbhar vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,' she said.

However, it pained to see some sections raising doubts about the approvals, she noted, apparently referring to industry experts and some opposition leaders expressing concern over the absence of Phase 3 trial data on Covaxin.

'As a medical professional and as the Governor, it pains to find some sections of people, possibly with vested interests, unfortunately raising doubts about the approvals and the process,' she said, adding they were doing disservice to the efforts of the proud Indian scientific community.

After their ugly public spat, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech on Tuesday buried the hatchet and issued a joint statement saying they will work together to develop, manufacture and supply the COVID-19 vaccines in the country and globally.

Soundararajan said the 'unwarranted controversy' about the approval also has the potential to create unfound panic among common people about the vaccine and its use, she noted.

Any rumour regarding the efficacy of the vaccine was likely to impact and intensify vaccine-hesitancy among the people, especially the common people, who have some doubts over any kind of vaccination, Soundararajan said.

Recalling the days when she practiced as a medical professional, she said the oral polio vaccine drops got the acceptance of common people after they were promoted by film stars like Rajinikanth.

The critics must realise that more than 12 million doses of different vaccine candidates for COVID-19 prevention have already been administered all over the world till January 3 since the inoculation began on December 14 last, she said.

India with a population of more than 130 crore people should not lag behind in the vaccination process, she said.

'It is time that we put the things in right perspective as the World Health Organisation (WHO) too certified that Indias vaccine regulatory authority is very much compliant with the international standards,' she said.

This authentication by the WHO unequivocally makes it clear that the country was well equipped to produce and monitor safe, effective and quality vaccines, she said.

'We must all be proud of our scientists and pharmaceutical sector that India supplies 62 per cent of the global demand for different vaccines. India is a prominent and rapidly growing presence in global pharmaceuticals,' the Governor added.

Referring to the 'baseless allegations' against Covaxin, developed in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research, and the doubts expressed, she said the vaccine-maker has made a mark for itself in the field of vaccination not only in the country but across the world.

The company has produced 16 different vaccines for prevention of various diseases in the past, she said, adding it had been conducting clinical trials in 12 countries, including the US and the UK.

Recalling her visit to the Bharat Biotechs research and development centre at the famous Genome Valley here, she said it was astounding to see the Bio Safety Level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory. PTI SJR VS VS