The Center clarified in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it has not mandated COVID-19 vaccines and has only said that vaccination should be 100 percent.
The clarification from Advocate General Tushar Mehta, who appeared before the Center, came after the Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu Amit Anand Tiwari told a bench of Judges L Nageswara Rao and BR Gavai that the union government had given us a mandate that 100 percent of people should be vaccinated.
“Lord, one clarification… that the state of Tamil Nadu said they had made it mandatory as the center said 100 percent vaccination. This is not a mandate. The center has not issued a mandate, the center’s position is that it would should be 100 percent, but it’s not a mandate,” Mehta told the highest court that kept its injunction on the plea to get directions for disclosure of data on clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines and cases after a shot.
Initially, Mr Tiwari argued that Tamil Nadu has come up with the vaccination mandate because vaccination against COVID-19 is essential to prevent serious diseases in the population.
He said the vaccination mandate is in greater public interest in terms of safety against larger epidemics.
“I have submitted expert reports. Unvaccinated people are the cause of virus mutation … Where there is a chance that it would infect others or if there is a chance of spreading, we have the authority to issue such mandates … There is sufficient evidence to show that vaccines prevent serious diseases.
“It is further argued that these provisions are also intended to encourage the public to get vaccinated to stop the spread of disease. They are not only adopted for the safety of the individual concerned, but also serve a greater purpose to ensure the safety of others,” he said.
Maharashtra’s government counsel also justified the state government’s orders mandating the taking of Covid vaccines for access to public areas.
Vaccine makers Bharat Biotech Ltd and Serum Institute of India also opposed the plea, saying the petition that is allegedly in the public interest could be rejected with exemplary charges for adopting a private motive and attempting to overcome vaccine hesitancy and public interest. causing hysteria in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic.
Counsel for Bharat Biotech Ltd argued that it has extensively published clinical trial findings in widely available reputable peer-reviewed journals and are available on its website.
“The Petitioner’s claim that the Defendant has not published Phase 3 clinical trial data in a peer-reviewed journal is unsubstantiated, as the Defendant has submitted key results and key findings in one of the most respected and peer-reviewed journals on the subject.” field of medicine, THE LANCET,” explained counsel for Bharat Biotech Ltd.
Counsel for the Serum Institute of India also opposed the petitioner’s plea for disclosure.
“In principle they cannot ask for data. My data is with the regulator… There is no locus for the petitioner. Even under the RTI they have to demonstrate that there is a public interest. My position is that it is a barren petition” , said counsel for the Serum Institute.
The Center had previously told the highest court that all documents related to COVID-19 vaccines and their compounds were in the public domain, and that the vaccine had been shown to be highly effective and safe.
It had previously told the highest court that as of March 13 this year, a total of more than 180 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the country and 77,314 side effects, amounting to 0.004 percent, had been reported.
The government had said that as of March 12, more than 8.91 crore doses of Covaxin vaccine had been administered to the 15-18 age group, and the number of reported adverse reactions after immunization (AEFI) was 1,739 minor, 81 serious and six serious. †
It had said that both vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield – generate antibodies with a minimal chance of any side effect.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing before the petitioner, had previously argued that whether or not to vaccinate is an individual decision, and in the absence of informed consent, mandatory vaccination was unconstitutional.
The highest court heard a plea from Dr Jacob Puliyel, a former member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, who has asked for instructions to also disclose post-vaccination data related to adverse events.