Appeal filed against single judge verdict on plea by Kitex
The Centre on Wednesday filed an appeal before a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court against a single judge’s verdict allowing willing persons to take a second paid dose of Covishield vaccine four weeks after the first jab.
The single judge had also directed the Centre to make necessary provisions on the CoWIN portal to enable those who want, to take the second Covishield jab after four weeks in terms of the initial protocol to schedule the second dose on the portal.
The single judge directive came on a writ petition filed by Kitex Garments Limited and Kitex Childrenswear Limited, Kochi, seeking a directive to the Centre to allow its workers to receive the second shot of Covishield before completing the stipulated 84-day gap between the two doses.
In its appeal, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the approach of the single judge in trying to adopt a comparison between an unrealistic notion of earlier protection and the realistic element of better protection was faulty and would lead to serious adverse consequences.
This was especially so since nothing had been brought out to suggest that an interval of 12 weeks for the second dose would deny any effective protection to a vaccine taker. The 12-week interval which was based on a scientific study meant that better immunity would be provided only 12 weeks after the first jab and not before.
Hence, any insistence on taking the second dose prior to 12 weeks would actually impede the development of immunity. The judgment which permitted a certain class of persons to exercise a choice between early protection and better protection would result in social disaster.
If a large number of doses were administered prematurely under “the fanciful guise of earlier protection” claimed by the petitioners, it would not only amount to inappropriate administration but would affect the prospect of the remaining population waiting for their turn of vaccines as well. It would not be proper in the public interest to concede for a shorter interval under the fanciful guise of earlier protection, the Centre pointed out.
The appeal also pointed out that the single judge should not have interfered with the vaccines policy formulated based on the opinion and advice of experts in the field and clinical trials. The schedule of Covishield had been fixed on the recommendations of the National Experts Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19.
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