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Plea filed in Supreme Court seeks directions for expert committee to check effectiveness of current Rabies vaccine

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The Supreme Court has received a plea seeking directions for constituting an independent expert committee to study the efficacy of Intra Dermal Rabies Vaccines, which is currently being administered to human beings.

The reason for this study is because of the swelling number of deaths that have occurred, despite timely administration of the vaccine.

A petition was filed by the Kerala Pravasi Association, which has also requested for constitution of an independent expert committee on the effectiveness of Rabies Veterinary Vaccine, administered to dogs in India.

The petitioners have also asked the Union of India to give wide publicity and ensure that a proper and uniform implementation of the National Guidelines for Rabies Prophylaxis, 2019 is followed with appropriate revisions from time to time as per the WHO guidelines.

Citing recent incidents where persons bitten by dogs succumbed to rabies, despite post-exposure prophylaxis, the plea raises questions regarding the treatment protocol.

The Association has cited newspaper reports, which reveal that many vaccines were being procured, even before requisite approvals were obtained from the Central Drugs Laboratory as per the norms.

The plea revealed that as per the guidance note issued by National Centre for Disease Control, manufacturing of Rabies vaccine for humans, being a complex process, needs a minimum of three to four months for manufacturing and testing.

What comes as a shock, however, is that there have been instances where the vaccine have reached the State within 14 days of manufacture.

The petition states that this calls for non-adherence to the requisite C quality checks would be a direct violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, apart from violations of provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder.

It has been further submitted that the rise in the number of rabies-infected dogs is also a matter of concern; that needs an  enquiry about the anti-rabies vaccines administered to dogs.

The plea added that eliminating the risk of rabies at its source i.e., dogs, is the most effective measure to curtail the spread of rabies to all.

The plea suggests that the experts suggest that human rabies is a 100 percent vaccine preventable disease and the vaccines are considered to be “highly effective, safe and tolerated”.

Perforce, without vaccination, rabies is a fatal disease. While improper administration of IDRV is stated to be a possible reason for failure of the medicine in some cases, the recent deaths point towards the very efficacy of the vaccine.

The petition has also asked for directions to call records of the procured vaccines details by the State Governments without statutory approvals by the Central Drugs Laboratory.

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