People shouldn’t be made lab rats: Jharkhand minister on Covid vaccination drive
Expressing caution over the use of Covid-19 vaccines that were recently approved for restricted emergency use, Jharkhand’s health minister Banna Gupta on Saturday said the Centre must adjudge the authenticity, relevance and utility of any vaccine before its roll-out, according to news agency ANI.
“Its proper exercise is essential. People of this country should not be made lab rats,” he was quoted as saying by ANI. However, the minister ruled out any political differences or political ambitions over the issue. “As far as public welfare an national welfare is concerned, we'll stand with the Centre as far as public welfare and national welfare are concerned,” he said.
Gupta’s comments came a day after the central government announced that the Covid-19 vaccination drive in India will begin from January 16. The date for vaccination was decided at a meeting of a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Several political leaders have expressed their concerns over the use of indigenously developed Covaxin — one of the two vaccines approved for emergency use — as its trial has not been completed yet. On Saturday, Chhattisgarh health minister TS Singh Deo said, “The third phase trial of Covaxin is under process. The vaccine has been approved for emergency use (by the Drug Controller General of India). Its use should be avoided until its complete results are out,” Deo told reporters.
Meanwhile, the Centre on Sunday said it was proactively preparing for the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive and that the Co-WIN software forms the backbone of the last mile vaccine administration.
The states have been told to ensure that the vaccination drive is citizen-centric and built on the approach that the vaccine shall be available anytime and anywhere, the health ministry said in a statement. They have also been advised to urge the beneficiaries to seed their current mobile number with Aadhar for registration and consequent communication through SMS as there cannot be any proxies for Aadhar authentication.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with chief ministers of all states on Monday. This will be the first interaction between PM Modi and the CMs after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) gave restricted, emergency-use approval to two vaccines — Oxford Astrazeneca's vaccine known as Covishield in India, locally manufactured by Pune's Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.