Episode 109: The Vaccine Story So Far

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. Two nights a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one — what are the issues around the two vaccines that India has approved?

On January 3, the Indian regulator approved two vaccines for use in India — the Oxford/ Astra Zeneca/ Serum Institute vaccine called Covishield, and the Bharat Biotech/ ICMR vaccine called Covaxin. There have been some questions around both vaccines — less about the science, and more about the approval process — and I thought it was important to address this first. I do want to reiterate that I’m not making the case that these vaccines are unsafe, which we have evidence to show they are not, but that we need greater transparency around the government’s decision-making process around a mass vaccination programme. Who better to have with me to discuss ethical issues around the approval process than Dr Anant Bhan, a researcher in bio-ethics, and the former President of the International Association of Bio-ethics.

Dr. Bhan’s Twitter is here.

The Economic Times report on the Covishield adverse event is here.

An IndiaSpend investigation of problems around informed consent in the Covaxin trial is here.

An Indian Express report examining how the decision to grant Covaxin approval was taken is here.

For me, this was an incredibly useful conversation, to be able to know what to be legitimately sceptical of, and what data we’re still awaiting. I thank Dr Bhan for giving me his time and insight.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. On the next episode — a new question.



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