Congress leader Manish Tewari on Tuesday alleged the government has “politically misused the Covid-19 pandemic in its entirety” as he also criticised it over the grant of approval to Bharat Biotech International Limited’s vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for restricted use. Tewari, however, did not name the Hyderabad-based company. Several leaders of the Congress have already called the approval to Bharat Biotech’s vaccine “premature” and said that it can prove dangerous.
“The BJP government has politically misused the Covid-19 pandemic in its entirety. The controversy over the vaccine is its latest manifestation. Who is going to get himself vaccinated with a vaccine that has question marks on its reliability,” Tewari was quoted as saying by new agency ANI.
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“The BJP government has done a great disservice to that company which must have invested crores of rupees in research and development. In their quest to prove their ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ they have licensed a vaccine whose phase III trials are not complete,” Tewari also said, according to ANI.
Drug Control General of India (DCGI) on Sunday approved the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for restricted emergency use.
Before Tewari, his colleagues in the Congress party Jairam Ramesh, Shashi Tharoor and Samajwadi Party’s chief Akhilesh Yadav have raised doubts about the efficacy of Covaxin. Yadav who called it a “BJP vaccine”, said he wouldn’t get himself vaccinated for now added that “BJP (people) should get vaccinated first.” Tharoor on Sunday wrote on Twitter, “But it is typical of a govt that prefers slogans over substance. Chest-thumping ‘vaccine nationalism’, combined with the PM’s “Atmanirbhar Bharat” campaign, has trumped common sense and a generation of established scientific protocols.”
Amid the political slugfest between the opposition and ruling party leaders, Bharat Biotech chairperson and managing director, Krishna Ella, on Monday hit out at comments suggesting that Covaxin, was “safe like water”, and said that their Phase 3 efficacy data, likely to be out by February or March, will silence all critics.
The company also asked for a weeks’ time to prove with evidence that its vaccine also worked against the new UK variant of Sars-Cov-2 virus as 90% of the vaccines targeted just the spike protein of the virus but Covaxin was an inactivated whole virion vaccine.