The Supreme Court Monday asked the Centre to justify the use of Pentavalent vaccine being pushed as a replacement for the DPT vaccine and also used for prevention of Hepatitis-B.
Admitting a PIL,a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana P Desai issued notice seeking a response within four weeks.
The bench acknowledged that the petition contained details and material from experts. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves informed it the petitioner being a doctor filed the petition in the larger interest of the public.
The PIL by Dr Yogesh Jain alleged the vaccine had serious side-effects and its use without standard safety tests resulted in death of 21 children. The vaccine was launched for a limited,year-long trial in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Soon after initiation in the state units,infant deaths were reported. At least 21 deaths have been reported in India. Experts estimate that many deaths have gone unreported. In reality,the disease burdens of Hib (haemophilus influenzae type-b) and Hepatitis-B in India are so low that deaths from the vaccine outnumber lives saved from disease, contended the petition.
It said the vaccine had been banned or was not being used in Europe,Japan,the UK,Canada,and the US. Pakistan,Vietnam,Bhutan,and Sri Lanka halted the vaccine after reports of serious adverse events and deaths, it said.
The plea said although data from Tamil Nadu and Kerala was yet to be reviewed,the vaccine had been introduced in Goa,Haryana,Pondicherry,Gujarat,J&K,Delhi and Karnataka.