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Explained: controversy over Covishield vaccine

Petition filed in Supreme Court urges formation of a medical panel to examine risks associated with Covishield
08:10 PM May 03, 2024 IST | Maleeha Sofi
explained  controversy over covishield vaccine
File/ GK
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Srinagar, May 03: The Covishield vaccine controversy began when AstraZeneca, a UK-based pharmaceutical company, acknowledged the potential occurrence of Thrombosis Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) as a 'rare side effect'. This admission surfaced in a legal document submitted to the London High Court, triggering concerns about the vaccine's safety and sparking discussions as well as legal actions.

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The legal document from the pharmaceutical giant admits, "It is acknowledged that the AZ vaccine can, in very rare instances, induce TTS. The causal mechanism remains unknown. Additionally, TTS may also manifest in the absence of the AZ vaccine (or any vaccine). Establishing causation in each case will require expert evidence."

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AstraZeneca, the vaccine developer, stated that its AZD1222 vaccine for Covid-19, produced under license in India as Covishield, might lead to low platelet counts and blood clot formation in rare cases. The vaccine was manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Petition in Supreme Court

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Advocate Vishal Tiwari filed a petition in the Supreme Court, urging the formation of a medical panel to examine the risks associated with Covishield. As per a report in The Hindu, the document highlights, "More than 175 crore doses of Covishield have been administered in India. Post-Covid-19, there has been a surge in deaths due to heart attacks and sudden collapses. Several cases of heart attacks, even among young individuals, have been reported. Following the filing of the document in a UK court by the Covishield developer, we are compelled to consider the risks and adverse consequences of the Covishield vaccine administered to a large number of citizens."

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The petition additionally calls for a medical team led by an AIIMS expert, supervised by a retired Supreme Court Judge, to investigate vaccine side effects. Vishal Tiwari also urged the Centre to establish a 'Vaccine Damage Payment System' for citizens or families impacted by severe health issues or deaths due to vaccination.

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Global criticism and death of girl

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While the acknowledgment drew global criticism, a couple in India alleged that their daughter died after receiving the vaccine and plans to sue AstraZeneca. Venugopalan Govindan lost his 20-year-old daughter Karunya on July 10, 2021. She had been vaccinated on June 8, 2021. A media report shared one of his tweets stating, "This admission by AZ is belated and comes after many lives have been lost. AstraZeneca, as a responsible manufacturer, and its Indian counterpart, Serum Institute, should have halted the production and distribution of these vaccines when 15 European countries either suspended or restricted these vaccines due to clot-related deaths that occurred in March 2021, within a few months of the vaccine rollout."

On his social media platform, he shared details of eight other individuals who passed away within a month of receiving the vaccine.

However, it's crucial to note that TTS is not unique to AstraZeneca's vaccine. According to a report in the Economic Times, it is also associated with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine. This severe condition can occur with or without any vaccine.

The Healthy Indian Project (THIP), a member of the World Health Organization's Vaccine Safety Net (VSN), previously fact-checked several social media claims regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and concluded that vaccines were not harmful.

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