A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court requesting it to ask the Centre to open up vaccinations for all including citizens under the age of 45 in the wake of increasing Covid-19 cases in the country.
Tehseen Poonawalla filing the PIL urged the top court to direct the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to make effective changes in its policy to ensure vaccination for Covid-19 to all citizens of the country.
“It is surprising why the central government did not allow more people to be vaccinated despite India being the “vaccine manufacturer” of the world,” the plea said.
It said this arbitrary bar on the age groups coupled with the sudden rise in the number of infections due to Covid-19 disease, necessitates immediate steps to be taken to ensure that vaccination is not only available to persons aged above 45 years but to all persons below the age of 45-years, who are employed in work that requires them to go outside every day as well as all persons with any of the co-morbid conditions as vulnerable groups.
The bar on availability of approved vaccines to persons below the age of 45 years, despite having co-morbid conditions, is arbitrary, unreasonable and ultra vires Article 21, the plea added.
“The petition has been preferred in the public interest, challenging the arbitrary bar on vaccination for the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 disease only to “prioritized age groups” above 45 years of age, while there has been an evidently steep increase in the cases of COVID-19 disease in the country, with the daily rise in cases being that of approximately 1.31 lakh new cases on 09.04.2021 itself, presenting the country with an evident and ever-increasing need to allow vaccination for COVID-19 to all age groups and especially to all persons with co-morbidities such as respiratory illnesses and terminal illness, who, despite being vulnerable to COVID-19, have not been given the option to be protected by the vaccine,” the plea added.
The Drugs Controller General of India on January 3, 2021, had approved the use of 2 vaccines for immunization against the COVID-19 disease i.e., COVAXIN (produced by Bharat Biotech Intl. Ltd.) and COVISHIELD (produced by Serum Institute of India Ltd.), while other vaccines are also pending authorization for immunization, it added.
The plea further stated, both the vaccines have been found to be effective against COVID-19 disease and may provide adequate protection from the disease on successful administration of two doses of the vaccines.