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SC notice to Centre, others on plea seeking disclosure of data on Covid vaccines’ clinical trials

New Delhi, August 9

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre, Bharat Biotech, SII and others to respond to a plea seeking directions for disclosure of data on clinical trials of Covid vaccines as also on post-jab cases.

The apex court, while referring to the issue of “vaccine hesitancy” in India, especially in rural areas, observed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that nobody will be safe unless everybody is vaccinated.

“We are fighting with vaccine hesitancy in this country. The WHO says one of the major problems in the world is vaccine hesitancy. If we launch an investigation into this, would it not be throwing doubts in the minds of people,” a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose observed.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said it is not an “anti-vaccine petition” and transparency on the issue was needed as disclosure of data would rather clear all the doubts and hesitancy.

Bhushan, while making clear that the petitioner was not seeking to stop the ongoing vaccination, said the plea had also raised the issue of coercive vaccine mandates being issued like putting certain restriction on travel if someone is not vaccinated.

The bench issued notices to the Centre and others, including Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII), seeking their responses on the petition within four weeks.

Observing that it does not want to get into the scientific decisions taken by the experts, the bench said personal autonomy will have to be balanced with public health.

“We will issue notice. We will get the response from them,” the bench said, adding, “There is no way we can stop the vaccine.”

Bhushan said if the data is not made public, it would lead to more rumours and there would be more reasons for concern. PTI

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