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Vaccinated Indian expat moves Kerala HC for third shot as Covaxin not recognised in Saudi

The Kerala HC has sought the Central government's view on this and adjourned the matter to August 9.

August 05, 2021 / 05:17 PM IST
Kerala High Court (File image: PTI)

Kerala High Court (File image: PTI)


An Indian expat who was working in Saudi Arabia has filed a petition in Kerala HC on August 5 seeking permission to get re-vaccinated with Covishield vaccine, even after fully vaccinated with Covaxin.

The court has sought the Central government's view on this and adjourned the matter to August 9.

Girikumar Thekkan Kunnumpurath (50), is a native of Kannur.

In his petition, he stated that Covaxin is not recognised in Saudi Arabia and as per his visa stipulation, he has to return to Saudi Arabia before August 30 or he would lose his job.

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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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“I have two girls, one pursuing degree and the other in Class X. I have no other source of income to meet their educational expenses,” he said.

However, getting a third dose is not possible at present as there is no option in the CoWIN website to book a slot for it.

Manas P Hameed, counsel of Girikumar, said his petition was adjourned to August 9 and the court had sought the Centre’s view on the matter.

Girikumar said he had returned to India in January due to the second wave of COVID in Saudi Arabia.

He further said that when the vaccination process had started for the people aged above 45, he had registered on the CoWIN portal using his passport details.

Girikumar got the first dose of covaxin on April 17 followed by the second one a month later.

“It was only after receiving Covaxin that I came to know that it is not approved by the Saudi government. Many countries, including Saudi Arabia, consider those who have taken the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech as unvaccinated. Had the authorities informed the public about the non-recognition of Covaxin earlier, I would not have taken it. I never knew my decision would put my job abroad in jeopardy,” he said.

Covaxin was developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)  and its subsidiary National Institute of Virology (NIV).

In May, Bharat Biotech submitted application for emergency use listing (EUL) to World Health Organisation (WHO)-Geneva. It said that the listing is expected by July-September. The company said that the vaccine has received Emergency Use Authorizations in 16 countries including, Brazil, India, Philippines, Iran and Mexico, with EUA’s in process in 50 countries worldwide.

(With inputs from ANI)

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