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Inoculate Indians first before sending vaccines abroad, HC tells Centre

At a time when the coronavirus threatens to raise its ugly head once again, it is the people of India who should get the first priority during vaccination instead of those in far off countries, observed the Delhi High Court on Thursday (March 4). The court sought a reply from the Centre for sending COVID-19 vaccines abroad and demanded a “sense of urgency” in the matter.

The Delhi High Court on Thursday (March 4) criticised the government for exporting COVID-19 vaccines to other countries before inoculating Indians first.

Indians should get the first priority instead of those in far-away countries, the court said, demanding a “sense of urgency” in the matter.

The court also directed the central government to file an affidavit explaining the rationale behind allowing vaccinations only for people who are above 60 years of age or are above 45 years with co-morbidities.

The two-judge bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli accused the Serum Institute of India (makers of Covishield vaccine) and Bharat Biotech (makers of Covaxin) of under-utilising their capacities and not producing enough doses to fast-track vaccination in the country.

Also read: Senior citizen? Here’s how to get your COVID vaccine shot

“We are not utilising it [capacity] fully. We are either donating it to foreign countries or selling it to foreign countries and are not vaccinating our own people. So there has to be that sense of responsibility and urgency,” the bench said.

Also read: Efficacy, acceptance, production: A COVID vaccine’s formula to success

The HC was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in favour of a demand raised by the Bar Council of Delhi to declare judges, court employees and lawyers as ‘frontline workers’ and vaccinate them without any conditions.

The Phase 2 of India’s vaccination drive began on March 1 with people above the age of 60 and those in the age group of 45-60 with comorbid conditions getting the shots.

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