Govt To Supreme Court: Vaccination Not Mandatory For Any Indian; But Unvaccinated People Are Spreading Covid
The Centre told the Supreme Court that it has not made Covid vaccines mandatory but has only asked states to ensure 100% coverage.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, made the statement after Additional Advocate General for Tamil Nadu Amit Anand Tiwari told the bench that the Union government had asked the states via notifications to ensure 100% vaccination of the population.
Mehta clarified that the notifications were only recommendations and that the Centre wants vaccination to be 100%, but it is not a mandate.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation,
He challenged the vaccine mandates issued by some states and sought data of clinical trials and adverse effects of vaccines.
He said that the vaccines being used have not been properly tested for safety or efficacy and have been authorised for emergency use without public disclosure of the data.
He called the imposition of a mandate a violation of the rights of citizens and unconstitutional.
Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were united in their stand to make inoculation mandatory for people to access public spaces.
Tiwari representing Tamil Nadu said that the state had issued the mandate to prevent any serious disease, thereby serving the larger public interest.
He submitted expert reports which show that unvaccinated people are the cause of mutation of viruses.
There was also enough evidence to show that vaccines prevent serious disease.
He further said that if there is a possibility that the virus will infect others, then the state government has the right to issue such mandates under the National Disaster Management Act.
The Maharashtra counsel said that the mandate is a “reasonable restriction fulfilling the tests of proportionality”.
Maharashtra Additional Advocate General Rahul Chitnis observed that requiring vaccines to access public transport is essential since social distancing is not possible inside trains.
What Bharat Biotech Says
Vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech Limited and the Serum Institute of India opposed Puliyel’s plea, calling it an attempt to spread vaccine hesitancy among people.
Bharat Biotech’s counsel said that the company has published findings of the clinical trials of Covaxin.
Therefore the petitioner’s claims that it has not published Phase 3 clinical trial data in a peer reviewed journal is unsubstantiated.
What Serum Institute Says
The counsel for Serum Institute of India called the petition unnecessary.
It said that the data is with the regulator and that even under the RTI the petitioner has to show that there is public interest.
The company concluded that the petition is “infructuous “.
Incidence Of Adverse Effects
Out of the 180 crore doses of vaccines administered in the country thus far, ony 77,314 adverse events have been reported, which adds up to 0.004%.
The age group of 15-18 years have received over 8.91 crore doses of Covaxin vaccine.
The number of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) reported were 1,739 minor, 81 serious, and six severe.
The government said that Covaxin and Covishield generate antibodies with minimum likelihood of any adverse event.