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Delhi HC asks Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to disclose capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines

The high court also asked the Centre to explain in affidavit the rationale behind keeping strict control over class of persons who can be vaccinated against COVID-19 currently as under the present system those above the age of 60 years or between 45 to 60 years with comorbidities can receive vaccination.

March 04, 2021 / 03:11 PM IST
Representative image: Reuters

Representative image: Reuters

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to disclose their capacities to manufacture Covaxin, Covishield vaccines.

The high court also asked the Centre to explain in affidavit the rationale behind keeping strict control over class of persons who can be vaccinated against COVID-19 currently as under the present system those above the age of 60 years or between 45 to 60 years with comorbidities can receive vaccination.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said the two institutes-- Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech -- have more capacity to provide the vaccines but it seems that they are not exploiting it fully.

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"We are not utilising it fully. We are either donating it to foreign countries or selling it to foreign countries and are not vaccinating our own people. So there has to be that sense of responsibility and urgency," the bench said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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It also asked the Delhi government to carry out inspection of medical facilities available in court complexes here and to report if COVID-19 vaccination centres could be set up there.

The high court was hearing a PIL initiated by it to examine the demand of Bar Council of Delhi to declare all people associated with the judicial functioning, including judges, court staff and lawyers as “frontline workers” so that they could receive COVID-19 vaccination on priority and without limitations of their age or physical condition.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
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