BHOPAL: Discrimination between policemen and other frontline workers (FLWs) has been observed in FLW vaccinations in Madhya Pradesh. Persons other than policemen are given the innocuous Covishield vaccine dose, while policemen are given the controversial Covaxin dose during the frontline workers’ (FLWs’) inoculation, which is continuing in Madhya Pradesh.
Covishield is the local name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK and Covaxin is locally made by the pharmaceutical company, Bharat Biotech. Controversy about the Covaxin vaccine arose due to the requirement of a consent form to be filled in, which is mandatory for beneficiaries as the clinical trials for this vaccine are continuing.
All vaccination sites (vaccination booths) at the collectorate are supplied with Covishield, which does not need any consent form, while all session sites of the police control-room (PCR) are supplied with Covaxin, which need a consent form from the beneficiaries as the Phase 3 trials are continuing.
There are 18 session sites located around the PCR. Similarly, session sites at Raj Bhavan, where the securitymen are from different police battalions, the Nehru Nagar Police Lines, the 25th Battalion, Bangarasia and Misrod road are supplied with Covaxin.
The collectorate has three vaccination sites and all are supplied with Covishield. All hospitals — such as JP Hospital, Hamidia Hospital, Kasturba Hospital (BHEL), AIIMS, BMHRC, Berasia, Govindpura and ISBT Smart City where session sites have been constituted for FLWs — have been supplied with Covishield doses.
Initially, the resident doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital had opposed the administering of Covaxin when the pan-India vaccination programme was rolled out. The doctors, in a letter to the medical superintendent, had demanded that they should be given Covishield instead of Covaxin as the trials of Covaxin had not been completed yet.
What is the controversy?
Controversy began when the regulator said the vaccine had been approved for ‘restricted use in emergency situations in the public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains’
Experts wondered how a vaccine had been cleared for emergency use by millions of vulnerable people when its trials were still underway
Both are safe: Government
Concerns have been raised in several quarters regarding the efficacy and safety of Covaxin
However, the government has asserted that both the vaccines which have been rolled out are safe and have been subjected to adequate scientific scrutiny