Updated: April 21, 2021 12:08:56 am
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre for “criminal wastage” of vaccines, and said “whomsoever you can vaccinate” should be vaccinated, regardless of age, to ensure “all doses are fully utilised”.
The Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Pall also said that the ban on industrial use of oxygen should be implemented immediately, instead of waiting till April 22, as “economic interest cannot override human lives”.
On reports of unfair distribution of Remdesivir to states, it asked the Centre to review the process on the basis of need.
Referring to media reports on vaccine wastage, the HC said it was caused by “bad planning” and the “restrictions with regard to age or categories of people who are entitled to take the vaccine”.
“You (Centre) should be able to evolve a better, more efficient system. We are a country which produces the best IT minds. We cannot make an app to deal with this situation? We are wasting 44 lakh vaccines out of 10 crore we have given to states. This is only bad planning. What else is it? Why should you not have this covered? You should have known that there would be a situation that people may not turn up, because if a person turns up and you have to open a new vial, you will not tell him to come tomorrow… You have to foresee this situation. This is not rocket science,” said the court.
The court was hearing a case related to the Covid-19 situation in Delhi.
“Once a vial is opened, it has to be either fully consumed or the remainder goes waste. It should be possible for governments to devise ways and means so as to register volunteers who may be below the age of 45 and above the age of 18 years, who could be called to take the vaccine in case there are doses left unutilised after say 5 pm on each day. That would ensure all the doses are fully utilised and not wasted,” it said.
“Doctors and experts have been saying vaccinate yesterday; not today, not tomorrow. It does not matter whether it is Mr A or Mr B. Whomsoever you can vaccinate, please vaccinate. Whether he is 16 years, 20 years or 60 years doesn’t matter. All need vaccination. Please look at this aspect,” said the court.
It said the government should make necessary modifications to the CoWIN app in this regard, and observed that flexibility in vaccination eligibility was available in other countries like the US. “In our view, the wastage of even a single vaccine, when the same is proving to be life-saving, is a criminal waste,” it said.
“Just look at the amount of wastage. It is a huge waste. Every day, we are losing lives, young lives. The pandemic is hitting the young people very hard. Why should we waste even one shot,” the court said. It also expressed concern over reports of a dip in vaccinations.
Seeking an immediate ban on the industrial use of oxygen, the court said: “The need for oxygen is now. Any delay in this regard could lead to loss of precious lives. We, therefore, direct the central government to implement the said decision forthwith and make available oxygen to hospitals which are running out… lest there is grave loss of lives.”
On petroleum refineries and steel plants being exempted, the court asked the Centre to “seriously consider issuing appropriate orders”… “so that a fine balance can be struck between the needs of the people at large, who are suffering from Covid… and the needs of industry”.
Taking note of reports on shortage and hoarding of critical medicines for Covid-19 patients, it directed the Centre and the Drugs Controller General of India to issue necessary directions.
On reports of unfair distribution of Remdesivir to states, the court said: “Somebody sitting in the government who is deciding how much is to go where, we assume he is applying his mind to the needs of that area… what is the seriousness of the situation… Otherwise, people will have blood on their hands if, despite having the medication, you are sending it to region A and not region B even though region B requires it more than region A.. then that is a very bad situation, then we are doomed.”
The court said the Centre should review the distribution of Remdesivir to states on the basis of need. On reports of shortage of other drugs, it directed the Centre to interact with manufacturers, patent holders and licencees to ramp up production.
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