The Centre on Monday instructed States and Union Territories in a letter to take penal action against those spreading misinformation about the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines currently in circulation. Any such persons or organisations should be punished under the Disaster Management Act and he Indian Penal Code, it said.
Concerned that "unfounded and misleading rumours" are circulating in the social media creating doubt about the safety and efficacy of these vaccine, Bhalla stated that there was a need to check such scare mongering.
"I would like to strongly emphasize that the National Regulatory Authority in the country has found both the vaccine safe and immunogenic" the letter stated. The Centre was also concerned over "rumour mongering by vested interests" , which could create doubts among the people at large.
The letter further urged the state governments to counter the spread of misinformation and also disseminate factual messages.
The Disaster Management Act 2005 was implemented during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country. Sections of the law have provisions for punishment for making false claims. For issuing false warnings, there could be imprisonment for a year or fines.
India initiated the rollout of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford and AstraZeneca's Covishield, developed by Serum Institute of India.
Concerns have been voiced over the use of Covaxin, the Phase III trial results of which still not known. Doctors, at the fore in the immunisation drive, have also asked for a choice in the vaccine being administered to them.