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11 Feb, 2021 16:43

Indian state asks govt to stop sending Covaxin vaccine doses as it won't use them until efficacy data published

Indian state asks govt to stop sending Covaxin vaccine doses as it won't use them until efficacy data published

Local authorities in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh have asked the government to stop sending doses of the country's homegrown Covid-19 vaccine until proper efficacy data for the jab has been provided.

The health minister of the central-eastern state, T.S. Singh Deo, has written to his national counterpart, Harsh Vardhan, asking for all deliveries of the Covaxin vaccine to be stopped to “avoid the wastage” of the drug.

“There's an inhibition/concern among the community in general regarding the use of Covaxin,” Singh Deo said in the letter, which he posted to Twitter on Thursday.

This concern arises from the fact that the clinical trials of Phase 3 are yet to be completed.”

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Singh Deo said vials of the vaccine currently don't display an expiry date, and asked that the Indian government “reconsider” its decision to ship doses to Chhattisgarh until Phase III trial data is made available.

Opposition-ruled Chhattisgarh has received 588,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine but is also set to get some of the 10 million doses of the Covaxin jab developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The state-funded medical body has said efficacy data from a Phase III trial of the vaccine, involving 26,000 participants, would be released in March.

However, India's drug regulator approved Covaxin in early January without releasing the efficacy data, sparking outrage among Indian medical experts.

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The health watchdog All India Drug Action Network said it was “shocked” and had “intense concerns” over the move, while Indian MP Shashi Tharoor said the regulator's decision was “premature and could be dangerous.”

Since January 16, India has vaccinated 7 million key workers with Bharat Biotech and AstraZeneca jabs.

The country has reported more than 10 million Covid-19 cases, the highest in the world after the US, and has registered 155,000 deaths from the virus during the pandemic.

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