Covaxin approval delay: SC says it can’t tell Centre to revaccinate

The number of people who have recovered from the disease surged to4,25,08,788, while the case fatality rate was recorded as 1.21 per cent. Representative photo: PTI

The Supreme Court on Friday (October 29) said that it cannot ask the Centre to give Covishield to people who have been fully vaccinated with Covaxin in order to enable them to travel abroad, saying it didn’t want tot play with the lives of people.

Since the court did not have any data on what will be the effect on the people, it cannot simply direct the Centre to re-vaccinate people with Covishield, said a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna.

“We cannot play with the lives of people by directing Centre to revaccinate. We don’t have any data with us. We have read in newspapers that Bharat Biotech has filed an application with the World Health Organisation for recognition. Let us wait for the response of WHO. We will take up this matter post-Diwali vacation,” the bench said.

Advocate Kartik Seth had filed a PIL saying that since the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many countries had not given approval for the use of Covaxin, people who had taken the vaccine were finding it difficult to travel abroad.


Also read: Relief for travellers: Covaxin in Oman’s list of approved COVID vaccines

As of now, a person who had been vaccinated with Covaxin cannot get Covishield as he has to register for the vaccine again on CoWIN portal, which doesn’t allow such a process to those who have been vaccinated with one vaccine fully.

Citing this reason, advocate Seth requested the court to issue a direction to the Centre to allow this.

“We cannot pass a direction to administer another vaccine without any data. We understand your concern but let’s wait for the WHOs response,” the bench said.

Several students and professionals who had taken Covaxin are affected by the WHO’s delay in approval to the vaccine.

Seth also said that at the time of rolling out of Covaxin, the government did not make the public aware that it was not approved by WHO.

It said that Bharat Biotech has submitted its application for approval as late as April 2021 and in May, people came to know that many countries were not allowing entry of those who are vaccinated with vaccines other than those enlisted in WHO’s emergency use list.

The advocate also sought that the concerned department of the government be asked to release official data and give reasons for the delay in getting approval to Covaxin.