BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has once trained his guns on the Covid-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. Coishield was developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and it is being manufactured by SII in India under a licence agreement.
Taking to Twitter, Subramanian Swamy claimed that out of the 71 persons who have allegedly died due to the vaccination in the country, 70 people had died after they were given the ‘Covishield’ vaccine.
Casting aspersions on the made-in-India vaccine, Swamy insinuated that Covishield is responsible for at least 70 deaths that allegedly occurred after the start of the vaccination drive in the country. In his tweet, Swamy said that he had asked Niti Aayog for a report, who, according to him, had promised to submit a report but have not. Swamy said he was asking the Parliamentary Health Standing Committee to summon ‘him’.
Swamy’s resentment against the AstraZeneca-Oxford university vaccine is not new, however, this time he went a step ahead to push misleading claims that the Covishield vaccine has caused 70 deaths in the country after the Modi government decided to inoculate people with Serum Institute’s vaccine.
Did Covishield cause 70 deaths in India?
Contrary to Subramanian Swamy’s claims, there are no official reports or evidence to suggest that there have been deaths related to vaccination drive in the country.
Even though several European nations, including France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and others have temporarily paused the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as precautionary measures after they reported instances of ‘blood cot’, India has found the vaccine safe as no mortalities have reported due to inoculation of the vaccine. Most importantly, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that is being injected in Europe is not manufactured by the Serum Institute, the EU nations are using vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca at their own facilities. It may be noted that the EU health body European Medicines Agency has ruled out any link between the vaccine and blood clots, saying that the rate of occurrence of clot is the same as the normal population. The SII made vaccine has so far proved to effective without any health-related complications.
In fact, in reaction to such misleading rumours, a senior member of the national Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) committee had categorically clarified that out of the 38 autopsy reports they have studied of people who died after vaccination, they have not found any links to the deaths or adverse events to vaccination.
“There are 71 deaths. We have received 38 autopsy reports so far. There is nothing to suggest that these were linked to vaccination,” said a member of the AEFI committee since 2008.
The expert also said that review of adverse events post-vaccination is an ongoing process and is followed for every vaccine that is administered in the country like polio, measles etc. For Covishield and even Covaxin, the review would continue, the expert added.
VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog, said that India has been dealing with the issue for the last few days and is tracking the matter in a systematic manner. However, so far, they have not found any signal of concern in this regard.
“Our programme with Covishield vaccination will go on with full vigour,” Paul said.
Despite clarification from the senior government officials and the vaccine experts, Subramanian Swamy not only indulged in rumour mongering against the Indian-made vaccines but also puts out misleading data to claim that 70 deaths have occurred due to the Covishield vaccine.
India has vaccinated over 30 million people, and more than 6.5 million of them have already received the second dose. It is not unusual that 70 deaths have occurred among these 30 million people for various reasons. The vaccinated people that have died succumbed to other factors, and their deaths can’t be attributed to the vaccine.
Subramanian Swamy’s war against Indian-made vaccines
It is not the first time Subramanian Swamy has put out misleading assertions against the Indian made vaccines. Joining hands with the left-liberal media, Swamy had earlier attempted to propagate misinformation about Indian-made vaccines in an attempt to embarrass the Modi government.
Last month, Swamy had claimed that South Africa had asked the Serum Institute of India to take back 1 million Covishield vaccine doses it had supplied under a commercial deal.
Subramanian Swamy, who seems to have a complicated relationship with facts lately, had claimed that South Africa had decided to return the vaccine a week after the country said it would put on hold the use of AstraZeneca in its vaccination program after it showed reduced protection against the South African variant of the coronavirus.
However, the South African government had refuted media reports categorically saying that no such proposals have been made to the SII. South Africa had paused the rollout of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses this month after one of the trials had shown the SII vaccine offered lesser protection against the South African COVID-19 variant.
Following that, the South African government had agreed to purchase a vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As the South African government procured the J&J vaccine, it had decided to share the excess vaccines from India with the African countries via the African Union (AU).
In January, Swamy had attacked the Government of India for granting emergency use licence for the Coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University. Swamy had tweeted that the vaccine has not been cleared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) yet for emergency use, and hence it was incorrect for GOI to do so. He said that Indian people are being made Guinea pigs by approving the vaccine.