Updated: June 2, 2021 1:47:44 pm
Emphasising that the country needs to invest in the future, the Delhi High Court Tuesday said that the Centre’s policy did not prioritise youth in the Covid vaccination drive. It said that younger patients may also have to be prioritised in distribution of the drug to treat mucormycosis or black fungus.
The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh directed the Government to come out with a policy on the distribution of the drug, Liposomal Amphotericin-B, for treatment of black fungus.
“The administration of the drug to patients who have better chances of survival may have to be prioritised. Similarly, patients who are younger and who hold promise for our nation in the future, may have to be prioritised in comparison with the older generation which has lived its life and on whom others will not be as dependent,” it said.
“While observing so, we are not for a moment discounting the emotional, psychological support that the older generation provides to the families particularly Indian families who are so closely bonded. However, in times like these, difficult choices have to be made and should be made by the State,” it said.
The bench said the Centre was “sidetracking” the younger generation and instead vaccinating those in the age group of 60-90 when the second wave has shown that younger people have suffered badly. The court said it is not an area where even “God will be able to help us if we don’t help ourselves”.
“…even this policy of vaccinating only above 45 first and now saying 18-45 when there is actually no vaccine available. Why did you have to then disclose or announce when you did not have. Did you not know you don’t have? Why did you have to make this kind of a wrong declaration,” observed Justice Sanghi.
The court said that so many young lives are being lost and the 80-year-olds are not going to carry the country forward. “They have lived their lives. We are not suggesting that we don’t care for him but if we are in this kind of crisis where we have to choose between the two, then we have to choose the younger people,” it said.
It said that the shortage of Liposomal Amphotericin-B has continued for over two weeks now and a large number of fatalities are taking place across the country on account of the non-availability and lack of information on other drugs that can be used to treat black fungus.
“If the data placed before us is anything to go by, there is a shortage of about 66 per cent even as per the present day requirement,” the bench observed, adding it has now fallen on the Centre to come out with a policy with regard to how the drug should be made available.
The court said that if all patients suffering from the disease cannot be treated due to non-availability of the drug in sufficient quantity, it falls on the Government to spell out its policy with regard to priority.
However, the court clarified that there may be a category of patients “who are serving the nation in high positions and whose safety and security may be necessary in view of the pivotal role they play in the administration of the country”. It said an exception could be carved for them.
The court also raised several questions with regard to the ongoing distribution of the black fungus drug and asked the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to lay down clear guidelines on its use.
It asked whether it is medically prudent to administer to a patient suffering from black fungus two vials of amphotericin-B on a daily basis if the advised dosage is six vials per day — and whether the patient who is not administered the full dosage is exposed to the progress of disease leading to loss of one or other body part, such as eyes and jaw, and possibly eventual death.
It also noted that most of the probable sources from where the Centre was expecting to import 2.30 lakh vials of Liposomal Amphotericin-B have failed and there are hardly any vials coming from those sources. The Centre said it is trying to procure smaller quantities of the drug from other sources now.
The court said it will take up the matter on Friday and asked the authorities to file a status report with regard to the questions raised by it.
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