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Good shot, bad shot: What you need to know about Covishield issue

May 10,2024

Covid-19 may have gone away but controversies over vaccine side-effects refuse to die. Covishield, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by UK-based drug major AstraZeneca and Oxford University and produced in India by Serum Institute of India, has triggered a big controversy in India with political parties too jumping in. There are demands for compensation for family members of people who died allegedly due to the vaccine side effects and to review the science behind all Covid vaccines.

It all started with a submission made by Astrazeneva in a British court. It said in court documents that its Covid vaccine can cause a rare side effect, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported nearly 10 days ago. The pharmaceutical giant is being sued for over £100 million (a little over Rs 1,000 crore) in class action over claims its vaccine caused death and serious injury in 51 cases, according to court documents seen by the Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper.

AstraZeneca is contesting the claims but has accepted, in a legal document submitted to the high court in February, that its Covid vaccine “can, in very rare cases, cause thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome”, which causes people to have blood clots and a low blood platelet count.

One of the claimants is Jamie Scott, a father of two, who was left with a permanent brain injury after developing a blood clot and a bleed on the brain that prevented him from working after he received the AstraZeneca vaccine in April 2021. Lawyers representing families suing the drugs company argue that the vaccine was not as safe as individuals were entitled to expect. They are suing the firm under the Consumer Protection Act of 1987, arguing the maximum £12,000 (more than Rs 12 lakh) payout they could get from the UK-govt-run vaccine compensation scheme is inadequate.

In India, the said vaccine was sold under the brand name Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune. After the revelation about Astrazeneca’s submission in the UK court, parents of a woman who allegedly died after taking Covishield decided to file a case against SII.

Venugopalan Govindan, father of Karunya, who died after taking the vaccine, said the admission by AstraZeneca is “too late” and has come after so many lives have been lost. ” The parents have already filed a writ petition seeking compensation, appointment of an expert medical board independent of the government to forthwith inquire into and investigate the deaths of their daughter, and to share the report of the investigation with them.

A group of parents who lost their children to alleged adverse effects after taking Covishield, believes the number of deaths or serious injury could be much more in India than the government figures even as more parents join in to fight it out in the court.

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking setting up of an expert medical panel to study and assess the possible risk factors associated with the vaccine. It calls for a direction to the Centre to implement a vaccine damage payment system to compensate citizens who are severely disabled or deceased as a result of the vaccine.

A doctors’ group has urged the government to review the science behind all Covid vaccines and audit their commercialisation as well as implementation of active surveillance and monitoring mechanisms to ensure vaccine adverse events are identified as early as possible.

Source: Economic Times

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