The government on December 1 said it never spoke about vaccinating the entire country and that "it's important that we discuss such scientific issues, based on factual information only".
"I just want to make this clear that the government has never spoken about vaccinating the entire country. It's important that we discuss such scientific issues, based on factual information only," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said while responding to a question on when a vaccine can be provided to everyone in the country.
Explaining the statement further, the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava, said vaccinating the entire population may not be required if "critical mass of people" is vaccinated and the chain of virus transmission is broken.
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Earlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said the Centre plans to vaccinate 20-25 crore Indians by July 2021.
Moreover, the Centre also said adverse event will not have an effect on the COVID-19 vaccine timeline "in any manner whatsoever" against the backdrop of a recent adverse effect reported during the Serum Institute of India's (SII's) 'Covidshield' vaccine trial.
"Whenever clinical trial starts, subjects are expected to sign prior informed consent form. This is global practice, it happens across all countries. Form tells subject about possible adverse events that may happen in case one decides to participate in trial," Bhushan said, according to news agency ANI.
"Clinical trials are multi-centric and multi-site. Each site has an Institutional Ethics Committee, which is independent of manufacturer or government. In case of any adverse event, this Committee takes note and gives its report to Drug Controller General of India (DGCI)," Bhushan added.
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A 40-year-old man who took part in the 'Covidshield' vaccine trial had alleged serious side effects, including a virtual neurological breakdown and impairment of cognitive functions. He had sought Rs 5 crore compensation in a legal notice to SII and others, besides seeking a halt to the trial.
On its part, the SII on November 29 rejected the claims and threatened to seek damages in "excess of Rs 100 crore" for "malicious" allegations.For our complete coverage of the novel coronavirus, click here.