On Friday, The Supreme Court said that it could not play with people’s lives by ordering the Centre to revaccinate people with Covishield who are completely vaccinated by Covaxin to allow them to travel overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The top court was trying a petition that said that Covaxin was not recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). People here are encountering challenges in obtaining approval to travel overseas. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and BV Nagarathna said that the court does not have any data on the people’s impact, and it cannot simply address the Centre to revaccinate people with Covishield.
“We cannot play with the lives of people by directing Centre to revaccinate. We don’t have any data with us. We have read in newspapers that Bharat Biotech has filed an application with the World Health Organisation for recognition. Let us wait for the response of WHO. We will take up this matter post-Diwali vacation,” the bench said.
Advocate Kartik Seth, arriving in person, disputed that some students and people are ready to go overseas every day. Still, they are refused entrance as the WHO does not acknowledge Covaxin.
He said that under the existing mechanism, a person vaccinated with Covaxin could not register themself on the CoWIN portal to receive the Covishield vaccine, and a command can be assigned to the Centre in this concern.
“We cannot pass a direction to administer another vaccine without any data. We understand your concern but let’s wait for the WHO’s response,” the bench said.
The highest court said that there is also concern that opponents may try to take benefit of the litigation in the form of the PIL. Seth said that his PIL is completely a Public Interest Litigation as many students who go abroad to study are denied entry in multiple countries.
The plea registered by Seth said that at the time of working out of Covaxin, the government did not make the public conscious that WHO did not recognise it. It said that Bharat Biotech had submitted its application for approval as late as April 2021, and in May, people came to know many countries are not allowing entry of those who are vaccinated with vaccines other than those listed in WHO’s emergency use list.
The plea pleaded for a command to the concerned department and published official data and reasons for the lag in receiving approval to Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech.
It also asked for directions for revealing the actual data and records to WHO to obtain consent in favour of Covaxin.