Doctors’ group urges govt to review all Covid vaccines

NEW DELHI, 9 May: In the wake of pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca admitting in a UK court that its Covid vaccine can cause blood clots in rare cases, a group of doctors on Thursday expressed deep concern over the safety of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

At a press conference, the doctors, under the banner of the Awaken India Movement (AIM), urged the government to review the science behind all Covid vaccines and audit their commercialisation as well as implementation of active surveillance and monitoring mechanism to ensure vaccine adverse events are identified as early as possible.

“The government has wholly ignored the rising number of cases of tragic deaths post-Covid vaccination all the while and continues to promote Covid vaccines as ‘safe and effective’, without scientific investigation and invoking epidemiology,” Dr Tarun Kothari, a radiologist and an activist, said at the press conference.

The world is learning about a side effect of the Covid vaccine called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), he said.

When the Covid-19 vaccines were being administered, not many people were aware that it was being done without the completion of Phase-3 trials.

Administration of Covid-19 vaccines was started without the manufacturers having complete information and data on the possible short-term or long-term side effects, or fatalities, said Dr Sujata Mittal, a gynaecologist and oncologist.

There is an already low awareness around vaccine injuries, especially in India, she said.

Thousands of women reported abnormalities in their menstrual cycles, which was confirmed much later as a side effect of the vaccine in a study published in September 2022, she added.

“The AIM has been collecting details of Covid vaccine deaths covered by media/social media in India and sharing them with various high authorities of the country since 2021, when the vaccination began. The government has failed to respond to our repeated requests to investigate deaths and debilitation from adverse effects of vaccination,” Dr Kothari said.

The AIM urged the government of India to compensate all the victims of Covid vaccines, including their family members, through a mechanism that involves vaccine manufacturers as well.

“We also demand establishing fast-track courts and vaccine courts to provide swift justice to the vaccine injured and their families,” Dr Mittal said.

Besides, active surveillance and monitoring mechanisms should be implemented to ensure that vaccine adverse events are identified as early as possible, and early treatment protocols must be created and widely publicised, so that lives can be saved, she stated.

“Review science behind all Covid vaccines and audit their commercialisation,” Dr Kothari said.

The United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca has started global withdrawal of its Covid-19 vaccine, which was provided in India as ‘Covishield’, in partnership with the Serum Institute of India, days after it admitted to rare side effects of blood clotting and lowering of platelet counts.

The withdrawal has been initiated due to a surplus of available updated vaccines since the pandemic, the company said in a statement.

In India, the Serum Institute of India said that it has stopped the manufacturing and supply of additional doses of Covishield since December 2021, while reiterating that it had disclosed all rare to very rare side effects, including TTS, in the packaging insert in 2021.

AstraZeneca had partnered with Oxford University to develop the Covid-19 vaccine, which was sold as Vaxzevria in Europe. (PTI)