India not utilising vaccine to full capacity: Delhi High Court
- It is either being donated or sold off to foreign countries
- Court asks Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to disclose capacity
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday showed apprehensions over non-utilization of coronavirus vaccine to its full capacity by the country, asserting that it is either being donated or sold off to foreign countries rather than being provided to Indians.
Justice Vipin Sanghi made the observations while hearing a suo motu public interest litigation concerning vaccination of judges, court staff and lawyers on priority and for them to be treated as frontline workers so that they could receive it without limitations of their age or physical condition.
In the recent phase of the vaccination drive which commenced on March 1, the government is inoculating only those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions. The priority was first given to the healthcare and frontline workers.
Justice Sanghi said, "If the capacity of the two vaccine manufacturers were being utilized to the full and then the restrictions were to be put, it would have been one thing. We should not have the situation where we are not even utilizing the full capacity."
His remarks came after Covishield and Covaxin vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech and Serum Insititute of India apprised that the capacity to vaccinate the judicial staff is available.
"They have the full capacity to manufacture and supply. We are not utilizing it because of our restricted control approach. We are either donating or selling it off to foreign countries rather than giving it to our own people. It is well settled and the experts are also saying that there should be a sense of urgency in this process of vaccination," the judge said.
He said that the present petition is to find out if the whole judicial system can be prioritized without age limit and co morbidity.
The court then issued slew of directions. Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India have been directed to file affidavits on -- capacity to manufacture the vaccines and the unutilized capacity.
The Government of India has been asked to indicate the transport capacity of the vaccine and the extent to which it is being used. The Centre has also been asked to explain the rationale over strict class of persons that can be vaccinated.