'Transparency, reliability and swiftness': Indian government dispels myths about vaccines

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 27, 2021, 02:28 PM IST

There’s also a political cost to abandoning the rest of the world on COVID. At a time of renewed great-power competition, America’s effective vaccines could give us a diplomatic advantage. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Talking about the vaccine distribution to states, Paul assured that the doses procured by the Centre is being supplied to regions with complete knowledge of the state governments

While social distancing and wearing face masks can protect us from the deadly coronavirus, vaccines act as a permanent shield against this virus. As the Government of India is busy arranging vaccines for everyone, some myths, based on distorted statements and blatant lies, have been spreading like wildfire.

Some people believe the central government has failed to procure enough vaccines from western countries. However, the government said it has been in successful discussions with all the major international vaccine manufacturers (such as Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) since mid-2020, when companies started producing the vaccines.

"We need to understand that buying vaccines internationally is not similar to buying 'off the shelf' items," explained Dr Vinod Paul, Member (Health) in NITI Aayog and Chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

"Vaccines are in limited supply globally, and companies have their own priorities, game-plans and compulsions in allocating finite stocks. They also give preference to countries of their origin just as our own vaccine makers have done unhesitatingly for us," Paul explained.

The government said it has also successfully accelerated the approval and import process of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine and has been in continuous discussions with Pfizer to arrange the vaccines as soon as possible.

India has also proactively eased the entry and approval process for the vaccines which have been approved by US FDA, EMA, UK's MHRA and Japan's PMDA, and WHO's Emergency Use Listing to ensure smooth import of vaccines into the country, the government said in a release.

New Delhi has also lent full support to domestic vaccine manufacturers such as Bharat Biotech, which will soon be increasing its production plants from one to four. Authorities are also in contact with the Serum Institute of India to increase its production of the Covishield vaccine from 6.5 crore doses per month to 11.0 crore doses per month. 

Talking about the vaccine distribution to states, Paul assured that the vaccine procured by the Centre is being supplied to regions with complete knowledge of the state governments.

"In the non-GoI channel, states are getting 25% of the doses and private hospitals are getting 25% doses. However the hiccups and issues faced by the people in the administration of these 25% doses by the states leave a lot to be desired," Paul said.

He also addressed the issue of compulsory licensing and stressed on the importance of active partnership rather than personal profits.

"Tech transfer is the key and that remains in the hands of the company that has carried out R&D," he said. "Infact, we have gone one step ahead of Compulsory Licensing and are ensuring active partnership between Bharat Biotech & 3 other entities to enhance production of Covaxin."

He also revealed that trials of vaccines for children will soon start in India.

However, the government will not start vaccination for children unless there are assured results of safety of specific guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), Paul said.