Plea in Supreme Court for Centre to allow individuals who have been fully vaccinated with COVAXIN to voluntarily get vaccinated with Covishield

  • Ratna Singh
  • 11:15 AM, 06 Oct 2021

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking answers from the Government of India and to issue directions with respect to permission to individuals who have been fully vaccinated with COVAXIN and desire to get vaccinated with Covishield after a lapse of three months.

The plea averred that there has been major latent lacuna in the entire vaccination system across the country which involves lack of awareness attributable to the central government mainly.

“The respondents, at the time of rolling out of COVAXIN for use in the market, failed to make the public aware that it was not approved by the WHO and that it had not even submitted an application before WHO for approval which was submitted as late as in April, 2021. It was only in May, 2021 (five months after the commencement of vaccination drive) that it rolled out into the news that several nations are not allowing entry of people vaccinated with vaccines other than those enlisted in WHO’s emergency use list,” stated the plea.

The plea has been filed by practicing Advocate in Supreme Court, Kartik Seth, stated that under the present scenario, a person is not allowed/permitted to get vaccinated with Covishield by registering on the official website of Government of India, “COWIN” after having been fully vaccinated with COVAXIN.

While referring to another blemish in the vaccination drive the petitioner stated that,

“until 1st May, 2021 (i.e. up to first and second phase of vaccination drive), no choice of vaccination was made available to the public in India and it was the discretion and prerogative of the Government to administer whatever vaccine was available to the persons eligible for it. It was only from 1st May, 2021 (i.e. commencement of third phase of vaccination in India) that the public was allowed to choose the vaccine as per their own wish.”

The petitioner further contended  that, the manufacturers of COVAXIN, Bharat Biotech and the Government of India have failed to procure/obtain the WHO’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) despite starting with the administration of COVAXIN on exactly the same date as Covishield, i.e. 16th January, 2021 when the vaccination process commenced in India.

The petitioner in his petition has contended that there was shift of people from Covishield to CoVAXIN, because of the endorsement by the Hon’ble Prime Minister and his support for the home grown vaccine.

“It was right after Hon’ble Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s COVAXIN vaccination that a major part of the population flocked to COVAXIN instead of Covishield as a matter of trust and ardent following of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, who as per rough data, is one of the most followed world leaders on twitter. As a result of this apparent shift and support, more than 7 crore COVAXIN doses have been administered up to August, 2021 within India,” stated the plea

While talking about another vaccine that is Pfizer in his plea the petitioner contended that it was granted emergency use authorisation by WHO on December 31, 2020 and the manufacturers of Pfizer were inclined to enter into the Indian market, however entry of the same met with various hurdles created by the Government of India and eventually it was not allowed by the Government of India for reasons best known to themselves despite the fact that Pfizer had WHO approval and was proven as highly effective vaccine.

Thus, the petitioner has prayed for the following reliefs in his plea –

A. Issue an appropriate writ in the nature of mandamus or any other writ directing the concerned departments of the Respondents to issue and release official data, record, timeline and reasons of delay in approval of COVAXIN vaccine developed and manufactured by Respondent No. 5;

B. Issue an appropriate writ in the nature of mandamus or any other writ directing the concerned departments of the Respondents to state the reason for giving approval to COVAXIN vaccine for administration to persons in India pending the results of third phase trials of the same;

C. Issue an appropriate writ to the Respondents No. 5 and 6 to publish actual data and records submitted to the WHO for the purpose of obtaining approval of WHO in favour of COVAXIN vaccine and issue a statement with reasons in detail delaying the approval of COVAXIN vaccine;

D. Issue a writ in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ to the Respondents directing them to not restrain those 36 who voluntarily, at their own costs and risk wish to get Covishield administered to them after having already received two doses of COVAXIN;

E. Issue a writ in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate writ directing the Respondents No. 1 and 2 to issue a revised Standard of Procedure and guidelines allowing re-vaccination of fully vaccinated persons with another vaccine on voluntary payment of the person at his own risks and costs.

[Case Title: Kartik Seth v Union of India]