Ever since the central government approved the two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, a host of detractors, motivated by their political agenda against the Centre, have opposed the move and sought to sow apprehensions among people regarding the safety of the vaccines. One such expert who has raised aspersions on the vaccines approved by the Indian government to combat the menace of coronavirus is Dr Gagandeep Kang.
Several opposition politicians and even those who claimed themselves to be experts have called the move as “premature” and raised questions of the Drug Controller of India for approving Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, claiming that the indigenously developed vaccine was yet to complete the final stage of human clinical trials.
Dr Gagandeep Kang denigrates the indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccines, fuels apprehensions about their safety
In her interview with the Times of India, Kang, who is the vice-chair of the board of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership seeking to proactively develop vaccines for epidemics, and professor at the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, cited the complicated language that she could not comprehend as the reason for her apprehensions about the two coronavirus vaccines.
Dr Kang asserted that the vaccine is already on trial and therefore she is confused as to how it could be approved by the drugs controller. “I have no clue. I have never seen anything like this before,” Dr Kang said.
Dr Gagandeep Kang also contended that the unavailability of data basis on which the approvals were made has also played a role in engendering distrust regarding the vaccines. The CMC professor also alleged that ICMR should publish its own journal on COVID-19 vaccines just like it has done for hydroxychloroquine.
Speaking against Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Dr Kang lamented that the organisation has only released partial data. She said there is absolutely no efficacy data that has been presented or published.
Not just Covaxin but Serum Institute-developed Covishield also came under the criticism of Dr Kang, who expressed skepticism over the phase-3 trials conducted by the organisation.
“Even though it is labelled a phase2/3 study, it is not a phase2/3 in the form recognised in any other part of the world where phase-3 implied clinical efficacy. If you read the CTRI description of what is labelled a phase 2/3 study by Serum Institute, you realise that it actually is what would be called a phase-2 study in other parts of the world, i.e. for safety and immunogenicity and not for efficacy,” Dr Kang said.
Dr Kang further disparaged the two vaccines, stating that it is wrong to call them ‘indigenously developed’ since the adjuvant of the vaccine came from the US. “Yes, the strain is an Indian strain but a key component of the vaccine is the adjuvant and that’s not Indian,” Dr Kang said.
Dr Gagandeep Kang one amongst the 150 scientists who had urged voters to vote against PM Modi in 2019 LS
While Dr Gagandeep Kang belittled the COVID-19 vaccines developed in India and fuelled doubts regarding the efficacy of the vaccines, it is pertinent to note that Dr Kang was one among the 150 ‘scientists‘ who had signed a letter subtly appealing the voters to vote against the Modi government during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Could it be that her current opposition to the two coronavirus vaccines approved by the Indian regulatory body stems from her anti-Modi stance?
For Dr Kang, fake news peddler Dhruv Rathee is an authoritative source of information
Besides, it is also worth noting that Dr Kang, who has been raising questions over the authenticity of the data released by Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute regarding the two coronavirus vaccines, has been an admirer of propagandist Dhruv Rathee.
This young man @dhruv_rathee puts together key messaging to make information so accessible. Science people-we need to engage more with smart young folk out there. In a time of bubbles, the one of our usual communication approaches should be broken. https://t.co/mgr9L58Ijx— G Kang (@GKangInd) November 25, 2020
For Dr Kang, video blogger Dhruv Rathee, who has been caught myriad times for spreading fake and unverified news, is an authoritative source of information. In one of the tweets shared by Dr Kang, the CMC professor was seen lauding Dhruv Rathee for putting together key messaging to make information accessible.
Incidentally, Dhruv Rathee is also known for his anti-Modi stance and has been exposed numerous times for purveying propaganda and fake news meant to defame the central government. It is, therefore, a bit rich coming from Dr Kang to question datasets released by India’s COVID-19 vaccine candidates when one of her sources of information is fake news peddler Dhruv Rathee.
Drugs Controller General of India rubbishes rumours of vaccines being unsafe
As India gears up for the world’s largest vaccination programme, the Drugs Controller General of India(DCGI) had rubbished the rumours of the vaccines being unsafe for the general public. Denouncing the speculations as “complete nonsense”, the DCGI said, “We will never approve anything if there is even slightest safety concern. Vaccines are 110 per cent safe. Some side effects such as mild fever, pain and allergy are common for every vaccine. The rumours of vaccines being unsafe are complete nonsense,” DCGI said.
However, despite assurances from the Drugs Controller General of India, assorted individuals, including politicians, scientists, experts and others, united by their loathing for PM Modi, have continued to sow apprehensions regarding the efficacy of the vaccines and create distrust among the public against the Centre. The pathological hatred for the Modi government has caused these individuals to take leave of their good senses, preventing the vulnerable people from being vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus that has so far affected more than 85 million people across the world and caused upwards of 1.84 million fatalities.