After PM Modi’s fiery address to the nation where he exposed the opposition and their friendly media’s lies and propaganda, The Hindu was seemingly enraged and tried to do a ‘fact-check’ on PM Modi’s statement that historically India lacked access to vaccines against various diseases with the publication claiming that even before the country achieved independence, India was self-sufficient in manufacturing of vaccines which is nothing but a blatant lie. Such was the shoddiness of The Hindu’s fact-check that the article ended up contradicting itself on multiple occasions and appeared to be a hit job on PM Modi.
The Prime Minister in his address stated, “If you look at the history of vaccinations in India, whether it was a vaccine for smallpox, hepatitis B or polio, you will see that India would have to wait for decades to procure vaccines from abroad. When vaccination programmes ended in other countries, it wouldn’t have even begun in our country. Imagine if India had not produced its own vaccines, what would have happened to a country as big as India?” This was also seen as a pot-shot against the previous Congress governments who couldn’t care less for critical vaccines against diseases like Polio with multiple Congress leaders spreading hesitancy against Made in India vaccines especially Covaxin.
The Hindu perhaps could not tolerate this as PM Modi broke the unspoken rule of the Congress ecosystem that the credit of any achievement must be traced back to Jawaharlal Nehru and the Gandhi family. Hence, the Hindu embarked on a lousy fact-check in a desperate attempt to prove PM Modi wrong.
The article titled “Fact check | History shows India did not lack access to vaccines as claimed by PM Modi” stated that be it Polio or Smallpox, India never lacked access to vaccines as claimed by PM Modi.
A Twitter handle by the name of “Know the Nation” debunked the publication’s claims as it posted an infographic which consisted a timeline of the introduction of major vaccines in India. While the world managed to get a hand on the vaccine against Rotavirus as early as 1998, India was only able to procure the vaccines after 17 long years in 2015.
For the vaccine against Japanese encephalitis, the difference was even starker. While the first vaccine against the disease was introduced way back in 1930, the vaccine arrived in India a staggering 83 years later in 2013.
Tetanus which has become a part and parcel of the medical infrastructure was first introduced to the world in 1924 but only arrived in the country in 1978. Similar delays were observed in the vaccines against Hepatitis B and Polio.
The Hindu to prove its point quoted an article Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, which was published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research(IJMR) in 2012 to conclude on its own that, “India, even before Independence, was among the countries that indigenously manufactured vaccines almost years within they were discovered, historical records suggest.”
The publication then proceeded to cite the vaccination of a three-year-old Indian in 1802, a mere four years after English physician Edward Jenner published the result of his experiments on inoculating subjects with a cowpox virus, in order to prove that vaccines against smallpox reached India at a breathtaking pace and not decades later as claimed by PM Modi.
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However, The Hindu ended up contradicting itself as later in the article it stated that India was able to achieve complete eradication of smallpox in 1975 – a staggering 170 years later since the first vaccination of an Indian child in 1802. The article also mentioned that Europe and North America were able to eradicate smallpox by 1953 itself.
Not only did India lack the necessary infrastructure to manufacture Made in India vaccines against deadly diseases, previous governments were also extremely lethargic in vaccinating the population when the vaccines were finally available to India with the vaccination drive against Polio a testament to this fact. It is pertinent to note that India took more than 3 decades to eradicate Polio.
The Hindu’s agenda-driven fact-check against PM Modi ended up exposing the publication’s biasedness against the Modi government.