Expected better of you, Sir: Congress on Harsh Vardhan’s counter to vaccine criticism
A war of words erupted between Congress leader Manish Tewari and Union health minister Harsh Varshan on Saturday following the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination drive across the nation. Tewari once again raised doubts about the efficacy of Covaxin, the indigenously developed vaccine still in the third phase of trial. His remarks drew a sharp response from the health minister as he shared photos of frontline workers receiving the shot and accused the MP and the Congress party of being passionate about spreading distrust and rumours.
Follow latest updates on Covid-19 here
“Concerns that I have articulated are real & not imagined. It is not fear Mongering.Look what is happening in Norway. It may be a different vaccine but do not hide behind vaccine nationalism. Expected better of you Sir,” Tewari tweeted in response to Vardhan’s post on Twitter.
He was referring to the death of at least 23 people shortly after receiving their first dose of the vaccine in Norway. According to the Norwegian Medicines Agency quoted by news agency Bloomberg, 13 have been autopsied, with the results suggesting that common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in frail, elderly people.
The Congress leader’s remark came nearly an hour after Vardhan’s tweet that read, “So blinded are we by our passions that we suffer more to be damned than to be saved -Charles Caleb Colton Sh @ManishTewari & @INCIndia are only passionate about spreading distrust & rumours Open your eyes,sharing photos of eminent Doctors & Govt functionaries getting inoculated.”
Following the launch of the inoculation drive, the Congress leader had attacked the Centre over the shot and also asked why government functionaries were not taking the Covid-19 vaccine.
"Many eminent doctors have raised questions with regard to the efficacy and safety of Covaxin with the government saying that people will not be able to choose as to which vaccine they would like to take. This goes against the entire doctrine of informed consent," he told news agency ANI. “If the vaccine is so safe and reliable and the efficacy of the vaccine is beyond question then how is it that not a single functionary of the government has stepped forward to get themselves vaccinated as it has happened in other countries around the world?” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Tewari has been a constant critic of the government’s restricted emergency use approval to Covaxin, which has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the inoculation drive on Saturday. In the first phase, nearly 30 million health and frontline workers will be vaccinated and the second group is of people over the age of 50 years, and the third will be of people under 50 with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney diseases, etc. The central government will bear the expenses on the drive in the first phase.