Politics on Vaccine; it will only harm the country’s image

COVID vaccine

The Indian Opposition parties have proved that they can go to an extreme end for the sake of opposition and this time they are again “playing” their such “roles” on the issue of vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine has long seemed overly politicized, but they way, the opposition Congress and the Samajwadi Party are opposing the new Vaccines, it’s really unfortunate.

The emergency-use approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine against Covid-19 from the country’s drug regulator has kicked up a political storm. After a section of opposition leaders questioned the efficacy of the India-made Covaxin, calling the approval “premature” and “dangerous”, many Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including union ministers, urged opposition leaders to not cause panic in the minds of the people through their ‘wild’ theories.

“Time and again we have seen whenever India achieves something commendable — that will further public good — Congress comes up with wild theories to oppose and ridicule the accomplishments. The more they oppose, the more they are exposed. Latest example is the Covid vaccine,” said BJP President JP Nadda.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the national drug regulator, announced that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has decided to approve the Covid-19 vaccines of both Serum Institute of India (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) for restricted use in the country.

The Covishield vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is being produced in the country by Pune-based Serum Institute. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine — the country’s first indigenous vaccine against Covid-19 — has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV On Monday, some opposition parties, including the Congress accused the government and indirectly helped the “foreign forces” with their criticism of the approval process for the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, alleging that they do not want India to be self-reliant, a centrepiece project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that while India is happy with the approval of two coronavirus vaccines, Congress leaders have become “rumour mongers” and have tried their best to create “chaos”. Scientific and government bodies associated with the vaccines have given statements to dispel any doubt but the Opposition is trying to politicise the issue, he said, noting that the WHO has also praised the development. He also hit out at Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who had dubbed the vaccines as “BJP’s vaccines”, but mainly targeted the Congress for speaking “lies” and spreading confusion over the issue.

There was huge public outrage over the weekend when Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh said he will not take the “BJP’s vaccine.” The former UP chief minister was naïve if he didn’t foresee that his ‘BJP’s vaccine’ comment would make headlines, and not his jibe at the ruling party for its “unscientific taali-thaali thinking.” The BJP was quick to seize the opportunity, calling his remark an “insult to the doctors and scientists of the country.”
The chairman of Bharat Biotech – whose coronavirus vaccine Covaxin has been given “restricted use in emergency situation in public interest” – hit out on Monday at critics flagging the lack of Phase III trial data and others questioning the drug’s efficacy, branding it “… safe, like water”. “We don’t deserve this backlash,” an indignant Dr Krishna Ella declared.

Dr Ella said his company had carried out “200 per cent honest clinical trials”, had an established track record in producing 16 safe and efficacious vaccines, and was transparent with all data. “Don’t accuse us of inexperience. We are a global company… have manufactured 16 vaccines. It is not correct to say we are not transparent with data. We conduct clinical trials in many countries, including the UK. The point is we are not an Indian company… but a global one,” he stressed.

“We have published in a lot of journals. We were the first to identify the Zika virus and the first to file a global patent for the Zika vaccine and the Chikungunya vaccine. It is not correct to say that we are not transparent with data… we don’t deserve the backlash,” Dr Ella added.

Any party or its politicians have no right to insult the scientists of the country who are researching day night and are finally coming out with vaccines. Nothing can be more painful than the politics being done on the issue.

This will benefit only foreign forces. This will also benefit outsiders. Who will it harm? It will harm our country, the strength of our scientists and their self-confidence. Why do the Congress and these opposition parties want to break our scientists’ moral, strength and self-confidence? This is not the time to do politics. Rather we welcome such innovation and stand for them!

Disclaimer:-‘संपादकीय’ लिहिणारे हे ज्येष्ठ पत्रकार असून त्यांचे स्वतंत्र मत आहे. त्यांच्या लेखासोबत ‘महाराष्ट्र टुडे’चा कसलाही संबंध नाही. आम्ही केवळ त्यांचे मत मांडण्याचा प्रयत्न आमच्या माध्यमातून करत आहोत.

 M Charulata