NDTV is a notorious media organisation. It is known to have pro-Congress inclinations, but one would have thought that when it came to India and its health, the channel will not let its bias cloud its judgement. That, however, is precisely what seems to have happened. Recently, NDTV’s Vishnu Som took to Twitter to cast aspersions on the shelf life of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. One random parent took to Twitter to share what she said was an extension of the shelf life of Covaxin. She also insinuated that children in schools are being experimented upon by administering them with expired stocks of Covaxin doses.
Being the objective, fair and factual journalist that he is, Vishnu Som thought it is fit to react to the baseless allegations of a mother on Twitter. The Twitter user had said, “So my son went to get his first vaccine, the drive for kids begin today and realized that the vaccine had already expired in November. Then a letter was shown wherein it seems the shelf life has been extended!! How, why, on what basis? To clear stock you experiment on kids.”
Quoting this tweet, Vishnu Som said, “On what basis is this being done @mansukhmandviya? Can the formal notification clearing expired vaccine for use on children please be released?” However, Vishnu Som chose to ignore the fact that Covaxin’s shelf life was not given an extension after the Centre’s announcement to inoculate teenagers against Covid-19.
In fact, Covaxin’s shelf life was extended in November 2021 itself. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), India’s national regulatory body for drugs, granted Covaxin the approval of an extension of shelf life based on “additional data” accessed by it. In a statement issued by Bharat Biotech back then, it was said, “This approval is based on the availability of additional stability data, which was submitted to CDSCO. The shelf-life extension has been communicated to our stakeholders.”
NDTV was among those media outlets that reported this development. Vishnu Som would have known so, had he been a vivid NDTV website reader. But not everybody trusts NDTV for authentic news now, do they?
The Modi government was quick to react to such baseless allegations as well. “There have been some media reports alleging that expired vaccines are being administered in India under its national COVID-19 vaccination programme. This is false and misleading and based on incomplete information,” the government said in a statement.
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“The shelf life of vaccines is extended by the National Regulator based on comprehensive analysis and examination of stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers,” it added.
Thus, NDTV has been exposed yet again. Will the alleged media organisation learn any lessons? The answer is– No.