By no means spoke of vaccinating all: Centre

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1

Amid hectic planning for the rollout of a potential Covid-19 vaccine in India, the government today said it had never spoken of inoculating the entire country against the virus. Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and ICMR chief Balram Bhargava, both members of the National Taskforce on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration, said the purpose of vaccination was to break the chain of virus transmission and the same could be done by inoculating a critical mass of people.

“There has never been any talk of inoculating the entire country,” Bhushan said.

Adding to the issue, ICMR chief Bhargava noted, “The purpose of vaccination is breaking the chain of Covid transmission. We may not have to vaccinate all the people if we can break that chain by inoculating a critical mass of people. But even after that, masks would have to be worn.”

The government also made it clear today that the ongoing vaccine trials in India were safe. Bhushan said an adverse event reported during the Serum Institute’s Covid vaccine trial in October was unrelated to the vaccine and the Drug Controller General of India, after reviewing safety data from trials, did not find any cause to halt trials.

“Initial causality analysis of the reported adverse event did not necessitate stoppage of the Serum Institute Covid vaccine trial,” ICMR chief said maintaining that due processes laid down under the clinical trial framework were followed in respect of two adverse events reported so far.

“Both trials are in now phase 3,” the Health Secretary said. Asked if those already infected with Covid would get the vaccine, the ICMR said, “The WHO guidance says the vaccine, when ready, can be administered to anyone, including those who have already contracted Covid and have antibodies.”

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