World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan on Sunday (October 17) took to Twitter to inform that the technical advisory group, entrusted with the task to grant emergency use authorization (EUA) to India’s homegrown ‘Coavxin’ vaccine will now sit next week to decide the future course of action.
She tweeted, “The technical advisory group will meet on Oct 26th to consider EUL for #Covaxin. @WHO has been working closely with @BharatBiotech to complete the dossier. Our goal is to have a broad portfolio of vaccines approved for emergency use & to expand access to populations everywhere”
The technical advisory group will meet on Oct 26th to consider EUL for #Covaxin. @WHO has been working closely with @BharatBiotech to complete the dossier. Our goal is to have a broad portfolio of vaccines approved for emergency use & to expand access to populations everywhere https://t.co/lqQIyqItF9
— Soumya Swaminathan (@doctorsoumya) October 17, 2021
WHO and its lax attitude
It is pertinent to note that WHO and an independent group of experts were scheduled to meet earlier this month to conduct the risk/benefit assessment and come to a final decision on whether to grant approval to Covaxin or not. However, akin to the last few months, the global health body continued its dilly-dallying attitude and stalled the meeting.
Apart from WHO, Bharat Biotech’s India-made vaccine has been denied approval for emergency use in the United States by the country’s top public health regulator – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA demanded more data on the clinical trials of the vaccine, the complete extent of which, was still lacking at the time. Indian authorities had been facing criticism for not sharing Covaxin’s Phase-3 trial data, despite it being approved by India’s top drug regulator – the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).
Discrimination against ‘India-made’ vaccine
However, on July 3 this year, Bharat Biotech did release Covaxin’s Phase-3 trial data claiming efficacy of 77.8 percent. And yet, the global health body and US FDA, succumbing to the Pfizer, Moderna lobby has refused to grant the approval.
Such has been the racist overtone in denying Covaxin the approval that despite submitting additional info regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, WHO has not been able to arrive at a decision.
Earlier this month, WHO had informed about Bharat Biotech submitting the data, “Covaxin manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, has been submitting data to WHO on a rolling basis & submitted additional info at WHO’s request on 27 September. WHO experts are currently reviewing this info & if it addresses all questions raised, WHO assessment will be finalized next week”
Covaxin manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, has been submitting data to WHO on a rolling basis & submitted additional info at WHO’s request on 27 September.
WHO experts are currently reviewing this info & if it addresses all questions raised, WHO assessment will be finalized next week https://t.co/s2vadrdePS
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) October 5, 2021
It is important to note that Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had informed the Rajya Sabha in July that all the necessary documents were submitted already to the WHO.
“All documents required for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) have been submitted by Bharat Biotech for COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of July 9 and the review process by the global health body has commenced,” Mandaviya had remarked.
The world needs an alternative to mRNA vaccines
The world is desperate to break the duopoly of Pfizer and Moderna – the two mRNA vaccines. Reportedly, the Covid-19 death toll in the US this year is poised to surpass the number of fatalities in 2020. The wave fuelled by the Delta variant is waning in the US, but daily infections are still hovering near 100,000 and more than 1,800 people are dying every day, on average. The US has only administered mRNA vaccines to its populace.
Moreover, the two mRNA vaccines are incredibly expensive which the poor, underdeveloped nations cannot afford. Covaxin is relatively cheaper and does not need the extreme logistical apparatus like the mRNA vaccines to be administered. Thus, the delay in granting approval to Covaxin looks suspicious.
An article on American Bazaar written by Craig Snyder, says that Covaxin is the best vaccine but is unfortunately not available yet. The article calls for quick approval of the vaccine so that Americans can start taking it.
Many people in the US are refusing to take the mRNA vaccines, but they don’t agree with being called ‘anti-vaxxers’. They just want a choice beyond mRNA vaccines, a choice that Covaxin provides. Unfortunately, it is only the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna that are dominating at the behest of the US government and purportedly WHO.
The Bharat Biotech developed vaccine can help countries like America win over their anti-vax populace. Covaxin has been manufactured using a live virus i.e using a manufacturing process that has been used in childhood vaccines for polio and other diseases for decades. Succinctly put, Covaxin is the best vaccine out there to address the hesitancy of millions of Americans with respect to the mRNA vaccines.
WHO has been at the centre of controversy ever since the pandemic began. First, allegations of collusion with China were levelled. Then came its shoddy handling of the investigation to ascertain the origins of the virus and now, the health body is promoting vaccine discrimination by not clearing Covaxin. Something is indeed fishy.