VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan on Friday urged the Tamil Nadu government to avoid the use of Covaxin, the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Bharath Biotech. He pointed out that the vaccine has not completed the requisite phase 3 trials and criticised companies for experimenting their drugs on people.
"Like Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu Government must come forward to avoid use of Covaxin. Medical experts are opposing vaccines which have not completed requisite trials for accreditation.Companies must stop the practice of using people as guinea pigs," he tweeted.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier this month granted emergency use authorisation for two COVID-19 vaccines - Covishield developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and produced by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin. Scientists had questioned the move to grant Covaxin approvals as the the phase 3 trials are still underway and the required efficacy data had not been submitted to the the drug regulator. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan then went on to state that Covaxin’s approval was different from Covishield, with the former being used in ‘clinical trial mode’ - a term that many scientists have been confused by.
Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo had said earlier this week that the use of Covaxin should not be allowed as its trial was not completed and final results are awaited. “In my opinion, it should not be allowed in the state. As of now I am not confident to tell people to accept this vaccine," he had said.
In Tamil Nadu, Madurai MP Su Venkatesan too had raised objection to the use of the indegenous vaccine in early January. He had stated that the present approval and recognition given to Covaxin did not fit in the global definition for safety of vaccines. He further pointed out that if 'half baked' research of Covaxin led to any adverse impact it wouldn't end up as a failure for just Covaxin but would shatter public confidence in vaccination as a whole.
The opposition to Covaxin also comes days after news that a participant in the Covaxin trial had died in Bhopal. Deepak Maravi, who had participated in the COVID-19 vaccine trial in December, passed away nine days later, with the postmortem report claiming that he had died due to ‘suspected poisoning’, reported IndiaSpend. Bharat Biotech, however, later stated that Deepak’s death was not related to its trial.
Three cartons with 20,000 doses of Covaxin arrived in Chennai on Wednesday. Other than this, Tamil Nadu has received 5.36 lakh doses of Covishield manufactured by Pune's Serum Institute of India .
Twenty one thousand health workers are gearing up at 15,000 vaccination sites readied by the state for the vaccine rollout on January 16. The state currently has the capacity to store 2.5 crore vaccines in its cold storage units. 307 centres have been set up for the first phase of vaccination.