Mamata seeks scientific confirmation of vaccine safety

Adequate trials needed before vaccine candidates are cleared, CM tells PM

Raising questions on whether adequate scientific confirmation was available in support of both the vaccines approved in India for COVID-19 (Covishield and Covaxin), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a video conference with the Prime Minister on Monday said the States have been left with no option to choose or procure between the two vaccines.

“She argued that adequate scientific opinions should be obtained before confirming the safety and efficacy of both the vaccines, while she also requested to clarify whether there might be any side effects, post vaccination,” a statement issued by State government quoted the Chief Minister as saying.

Ms. Banerjee in her intervention during the meeting with the Prime Minister also submitted that optimal number of trials and fool-proof studies through such trials were needed before vaccinations were unequivocally advised in favour of both the vaccines.

The statement said Prof. (Dr.) Vinod K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog responded to the Chief Minister saying that both the vaccines are completely safe based on scientific evidence and there is no evidence of serious side effects .

Ms Banerjee also asked if the vaccination programme in initial two stages would cover only 3 crore people, what will happen for the remaining 127 crore of the population.

“The Chief Minister also sought a roadmap regarding the vaccination of the people at large and the role of Government of India in that… She wanted to know whether the State Government has to purchase the vaccines for the rest of the population (beyond the already- prioritized categories) in the State, in which case, she argued, GOI might provide necessary guidance toward such procurements,” the statement added.

During the meeting Ms Banerjee assured that the State has prepared adequate capacity for the storage of Covid Vaccine, and all 941 Cold Chain Points have been fully inspected and upgraded. The Chief Minister added that the State has identified 44,000 vaccinators and more than 4,000 vaccine administration session sites across West Bengal for the phase-1 of Covid vaccination.

On Sunday, a letter addressed by Ms. Banerjee to frontline health staff in the State was made public where she said her government would provide free of cost vaccine to all.

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