ILNS: The Supreme Court will hear on Monday, a PIL challenging the bar on Covid-19 vaccination to only ‘prioritised age groups’ above 45 years of age.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy will hear the plea filed by Tehseen Poonawalla, stating that there has been a steep increase in the cases of Novel Coronavirus in the country, with the daily rise in cases being around 1.31 lakh on April 9, presenting the country with an evident and ever-increasing need to allow vaccination for all age groups and especially to those 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 two vaccines for immunisation against Covid-19 – 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 the Serum Institute of India Ltd, in collaboration with Astra-Zeneca & Oxford University), while other vaccines are also pending authorisation for immunisation.
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 highlighted.
It has been 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.
The PIL 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.