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‘Disgraceful’: Harsh Vardhan slams Akhilesh, Tharoor over Covid-19 vaccine ‘doubts’


New Delhi, Jan 03: Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday launched a scathing attack at Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav for doubting the approval given to Bharat Biotech's vaccine while its third phase trial is going on.

Harsh Vardhan

"Disgraceful for anyone to politicise such a critical issue. Shashi Tharoor, Akhilesh Yadav and Jairam Ramesh-don't try to discredit well laid out science-backed protocols followed for approving Covid-19 vaccines," Vardhan tweeted.

Yadav has questioned India's Covid-19 vaccines and said he won't take "BJP's vaccine". Congress leaders like Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor raised concern over the grant of approval to it without the phase 3 trials, saying it is 'premature' and can prove dangerous.

In a tweet, Union Minister Hardeep Puri said, 'Our in-house cynics M/s Jairam, Tharoor & Akhilesh are behaving true to form. They first questioned the valour of our soldiers & are now unhappy that the two vaccines to get DCGI nod are made in India. Clearly, they are on a quest for permanent political marginalization.' Jairam Ramesh retorted, 'So says the in-house Goebbels-cum-Albert Speer.' Both Goebbels and Speer were close allies of German dictator Hitler.

Tharoor, a Congress MP and former union minister, also countered Puri, saying he had never questioned the valour of our soldiers.

'I would be happy and proud if more Indian vaccines are approved - but only after a full 3-phase trial confirms they are safe & effective. Short-circuiting the process is unprecedented, inadvisable & risks lives.

'We are baffled to understand what scientific logic has motivated the SEC (subject expert committee) to approve this vaccine posthaste... in violation of the criteria in the draft regulatory guidelines for the development of Covid-19 vaccines published by CDSCO on 21/9/20,' he tweeted, referring to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

COVID-19 vaccine will be free across India, says Dr Harsh Vardhan

Ramesh had earlier said that Bharat Biotech is a first-rate enterprise while adding that it is puzzling that internationally-accepted protocols relating to phase three trials are being modified for Covaxin.

He asked Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to clarify.

Echoing him, Tharoor said Covaxin has not yet had Phase three trials.

'Approval was premature and could be dangerous. @drharshvardhan should please clarify. Its use should be avoided till full trials are over. India can start with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the meantime,' he said.

Anand Sharma, who heads the Parliamentary panel on Home Affairs which dealt with the issue at length, said the matter of granting authorisation for vaccine use needs to be taken up carefully as no country has dispensed with the mandatory phase 3 trials and verification of data.

'The health ministry needs to give cogent reasons for dispensing with the mandatory protocols and requirements in this case, since it involves the health and safety of those frontline workers who will be vaccinated under the restricted category,' he said.

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