Thursday, December 9, 2021

Covaxin maker laments “fake news”, has hit our morale

Krishna Ella

Ahead of the World Health Organisation’s technical advisory group meet to consider emergency use listing of India’s indigenous Covid vaccine Covaxin, Bharat Biotech founder and chairman Dr. Krishna Ella stated that the acknowledgment and support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted as an inspiration for them amid all the negativity and opposition against Covaxin. 

“For a startup, what could be a bigger privilege than to have the prime minister himself take our vaccine? His action stood as a testimony for the vaccination programme and his philosophy stood out. It sent out a clear message that here’s a leader who believes in a startup company from his country. This serves as an inspiration for us and reinforces the idea of AtmaNirbhar Bharat, one that we all believe in. It serves as an example for other startups as well,” he said in an interview to NewIndian website. (below)

Ella added that PM Modi asked us to focus on innovation, take it to the world and bring laurels to the country. The world must acknowledge our innovation and good quality of vaccine supply to the world.

In the conversation, Dr. Ella also talked about his disappointment over the fake news and unwanted concerns on the quality and availability of Covaxin,. He mentioned that all the misinformation and doubts had hit the morale of the research and development team of Covaxin. 

“It is the half-baked information and people shooting off their mouths without proper evidence that irks me the most. The other day, someone wrote inactivated vaccine by Bharat Biotech cannot be approved. Let me share, Tyronn Berry’s rabies vaccine, also an inactivated vaccine, is approved by WHO pre-qualification. Such stories only spread misinformation and demoralize us,” he said in his response. 

He said while they all are scientists and not members of any political party, people should not make the vaccines a political case. 

“I don’t belong to any political party here. I work for Bharat, my country. Pull me up if I err in science, but do not drag me into unnecessary issues.  That is not appropriate. Politics and science should be kept separate. I’m working for public health, irrespective of the government.”

Nasal Vaccine A “Game Changer”

Talking about the nasal vaccine against coronavirus disease, Dr. Ella informed that they have almost completed the phase 2 trials for the nasal vaccine, which has shown good results. 

Calling the nasal vaccine a “global game changer,” he stated that their team is working on new immunology, and it will take them almost five-six months.

Dr Ella said the third wave of coronavirus is anticipated by experts, and they were also worried about the same. However, the critical factor is Diwali. If that passes safely, the country could be past the worst. 

He also requested everyone not to go lax and be cautious, especially since the children could also be carrying the virus.

Meanwhile, speaking on Covaxin for kids, Dr. Ella said that the company is still waiting for a license from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in this regard.

“The big debate here is whether children should be administered the vaccine in the first place. I’m a virologist and in that capacity I feel that it is imperative that we immunize our children. As mankind, we are yet to figure out the long term impact of Covid,” he concluded.

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