The government said on Tuesday it has not talked about vaccinating the entire population of the country against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), as India reported 9,462,809 infections and 137,621 related deaths so far.
“I just want to make this clear that the government has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country. It’s important that we discuss such scientific issues, based on factual information only,” Rajesh Bhushan, the secretary of the Union health ministry said.
Bhushan also said that the average daily positivity rate in India has been 3.72 per cent and with 211 cases per million, India has the lowest cases per million count “among all the big nations.” While data from the past seven days indicate that cases are increasing in European nations, the cumulative positivity rate has decreased in India, he noted. The cumulative positivity rate fell from 7.15 per cent to 6.69 per cent between November 11 and December 1. The number of recoveries had exceeded the number of new Covid-19 infections in India in the month of November, Bhushan added.
When asked about the allegations against Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine, the health secretary said that the vaccine timelines in India will not be affected in any manner by adverse events. Recently, a volunteer from Chennai had served a legal notice to SII stating ‘sudden collapse of medical condition’ after vaccination, which the SII has denied, saying Covishield is “safe and immunogenic.” Both parties have now served legal notices regarding the issue.
Bhushan said that all subjects sign a consent form before the trials that detail all the possible adverse effects of the vaccine inoculation. The government has also appointed an Institutional Ethics Committee that functions independent of the government and the vaccine manufacturer. This is done to ensure the safety of vaccines since the trials happen over various sites and locations.
The health secretary noted that the ethics committee will submit a report to the central authority, that is Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) in case of any adverse events.
He also said that the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) monitors the clinical trials on a “day-to-day basis” and reports all adverse events. The DCGI then analyses the reports and would then establish if there are any “one-to-one correlation” between the vaccine and the adverse event, he added.