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Tehseen Poonawalla moves Supreme Court against age bars to Covid-19 vaccination

The PIL, filed by Tehseen Poonawalla, states there has been a steep increase in the Covid-19 cases in the country, with the daily rise in cases being that of approximately 1.31 lakh new cases on April 9 itself

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A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the bar on vaccination for the Covid-19 disease to only “prioritized age groups” above 45 years of age.

The PIL, filed by Tehseen Poonawalla, states there has been a steep increase in the Covid-19 cases in the country, with the daily rise in cases being that of approximately 1.31 lakh new cases on April 9 itself, presenting the country with an evident and ever-increasing need to allow vaccination for all age groups and especially to all 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 Drugs Controller General of India on January 3, 2021, had approved the use of 2 vaccines for immunization against the Covid-19 i.e., Covaxin® (produced by Bharat Biotech Intl. Ltd. in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, Pune) and Covishield® (produced by Serum Institute of India Ltd in collaboration with Astra-Zeneca & Oxford University), while other vaccines are also pending authorization for immunization. Both the aforesaid vaccines have been found to be effective against Covid-19 and may provide adequate protection from the disease on successful administration of two doses of the vaccines, the petition highlights.

It is submitted by the petitioner that necessary steps be taken to ensure vaccination is not only available to persons aged above 45 years but to all such persons, even below 45, who are employed in work that requires them to go outside everyday as well as all persons with any 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, which guarantees a right to life, not being a mere animal existence but including within it, the right to dignity and appropriate healthcare as well as Article 14, which envisages a right to equality to all citizens, the petition said.

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In the PIL, it was prayed to the Apex 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.

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