Madras HC notice to Centre in case over Covishield side-effects
The Madras High Court on Friday issued a notice to the central government, among others, in a case pertaining to the alleged adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield. The vaccine is currently being used in India's vaccination drive. A 41-year-old man from Chennai, who was a volunteer for the third phase of Covishield trials, had moved the Madras HC. Here are more details.
What is Covishield?
Covishield is being developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII) in partnership with the Oxford University and the British-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca. Covishield, along with Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, is being used for the vaccination drive in India which started on January 16. As of 6 pm on Friday, 1,04,49,942 health and frontline workers were vaccinated across India using the two vaccines.
Petition seeks to declare Covishield unsafe
Justice Abdul Quddhose on Friday heard the writ petition filed by Asif Riaz seeking Rs. 5 crore in damages by the SII. The petition also seeks to declare Covishield unsafe, and declare that the side-effects suffered by the petitioner were due to the test shot of the vaccine. It also seeks the constitution of an expert committee to go into the issue.
HC issued notices to government, other respondents
The Madras HC issued a notice to the Centre, and five other respondents, including India's drug regulatory body Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), SII, AstraZeneca, and the Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research (SRIHER), Chennai.
Petitioner says he suffered acute neurological encephalopathy after vaccine shot
The petitioner alleged that he suffered acute neurological encephalopathy (altered mental state due to systemic factors) due to a vaccine dose he took in October last year. He said the same amounts to a "serious adverse event," which has led to his "loss of creativity and business." He also claimed that no one from SII or associated authorities approached him to examine the side-effects.
Last year, SII had threatened Rs. 100 cr defamation suit
Last year, after the petitioner had sent a legal notice to the SII, the institute had denied the allegations. "The Covishield vaccine is safe and immunogenic. The incident with the Chennai volunteer though highly unfortunate was in no way induced by the vaccine and Serum Institute is sympathetic with the volunteer's medical condition," the institute had said, threatening a Rs. 100 crore defamation suit.