New Delhi, Feb 12: Countering the inhibitions about Bharat Biotech's Covaxin raised by Chhattisgarh Health Minister T.S. Singh Deo publicly, Union Heath Minister Harsh Vardhan has written to him asking not to sensationalise a "non-issue" and divert focus instead to step up measures to improve the "abysmally low vaccination coverage" in the state.
Deo had tweeted on Thursday enclosing a letter to the Centre about concerns of the state regarding the incomplete third phase trials of the vaccine and the absence of expiration date on its vials delivered.
He had also requested the union government to halt the supply of Covaxin to Chhattisgarh until these issues were addressed.
Harsh Vardhan has given a detailed explanation in his letter to Deo stating that all vaccines supplied to states were "safe and immunogenic" and should be used expeditiously.
The Congress-ruled state had been expressing its reservations about Covaxin since it received the Emergency Use Authorization(EUA) from India's drug regulator on January 3. The vaccine is yet to complete its third phase of trials and is being used in clinical trial mode under nationwide Covid vaccination drive.
The Union Minister also pointed out that the state's performance in vaccination coverage was way behind schedule.
Harsh Vardhan said that while Chhattisgarh has "achieved 69.87 per cent coverage of its Health Care Workers by giving them the first dose of the vaccine, the state has been able to cover only 9.55% of its 2,09,512 Front Line Workers through the first dose of the vaccine".
"Ample supplies of vaccines have been delivered to Chhattisgarh against which coverage of only 9.55% frontline workers in the State is a matter of grave concern. Sh. T.S. Singh Deoji, rather than sensationalising non-issues, kindly focus on improving vaccine coverage in the state," Harsh Vardhan tweeted
"You would appreciate that this coverage needs to improve significantly since adequate quantity of both the vaccines are available with the State," his letter to Deo read.
The minister also rebuffed Deo's claim about absence of the expiration date from the vials.
"Your concern regarding unavailability of expiry date on Covaxin vial is also completely unfounded and without basis as the same is mentioned on the label of vaccine vials," Vardhan wrote while he attached a photo of a vial with the label.