Madras High Court today issued a notice to the Central government over a writ petition filed by Asif Riaz from Chennai, who had volunteered for the third phase of Covishield vaccine to declare the vaccine prepared by Serum Institute of India, Pune, as unsafe. Covishield, created in partnership with Oxford University and AstraZeneca, was cleared last month for emergency use together with Covaxin.
41-year-old Asif claims to have faced no side effects in the first ten days of receiving the trial from Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research. However, on the eleventh day, October 11, 2020, he allegedly developed a severe headache and had to be hospitalised for 16 days.
"I am still not stable, as I often experience trembling of hands, fear, anxiety, trepidation, panic, mood swings, and extreme problems in focusing on work..." stated Asif in the petition. The petition goes on to request the central government and the ICMR not to approve the vaccine.
However, SII hit back with a 100 crores defamation suit for 'maligning the company'. "The volunteer was specifically informed by the medical team that the complications he suffered were independent of the vaccine trial he underwent. In spite of specifically being made aware of the same, he still chose to go public and malign the reputation of the company," the company said in a statement.
The DCGI had also reasserted the safety of the vaccine. "We'll never approve anything if there is slightest of safety concern. The vaccines are 110 per cent safe. Some side effects like mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine," the Drug Controller General of India VG Somani had said.
However, the petitioner has alleged in court that the expert committee formed independently by the DCI had submitted its report without examining him and demanded the court to form an expert committee to study the issue. He has also appealed to the court to grant an interim order restraining the administration of Covishied until the disposal of the petition.
Justice Abdul Qudhose admitted the plea and sent notices to the Centre, DCGI and ICMR to file a detailed report by March 26. Meanwhile, over one crore vaccines have been administered since the vaccination drive began on January 16.