Did WHO promote vaccines in India that led to deaths of children?
A leading Indian journal of medical ethics has charged the World Health Organisation (WHO) of promoting a vaccine in this country that has been discontinued elsewhere, following adverse reactions and deaths in children.
New Delhi: A leading Indian journal of medical ethics has charged the World Health Organisation (WHO) of promoting a vaccine in this country that has been discontinued elsewhere, following adverse reactions and deaths in children.
In a hard-hitting editorial piece, the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME) has accused WHO of promoting Pentavalent vaccine "by stating falsely that no adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) has ever been reported with the vaccine".
The journal claims this is contrary to facts.
The editorial, by Jacob Puliyel, head of paediatrics at St. Stephen's Hospital in Delhi, is based on his detailed investigation into the deaths of children in Bhutan, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam following the administration of Pentavalent vaccine.
This vaccine combines the Diphtheria, Pertusis, Tetanus or DPT vaccine -- long used in national immunisation programmes -- with Hepatitis-B and H influenza-b or Hib vaccine.
This combination vaccine is not licensed for use by the US Food and Drug Administration, nor is it used in other developed countries, the editorial claims.
The IJME editorial says that on May 4, 2013, the Ministry of Health of Vietnam suspended Quinvaxem - the Pentavalent combination used in that country -- after 12 deaths and nine other non-fatal serious adverse events.
The WHO, which investigated the incident, said the deaths were not vaccine-related and asserted that "Quinvaxem was prequalified by WHO and no fatal adverse event following immunisation has ever been associated with this vaccine".
The journal goes on to say that serious adverse reactions and deaths have now been reported with Pentavalent vaccine produced by other manufacturers in a number of countries. Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have even stopped using the vaccine.
In India, according to IJME, 21 children have so far died in a limited experiment with the vaccine introduced in 2011 in the immunisation programme of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. India had announced plans to roll out the vaccine in other states after monitoring its impact in these two states.
Many of the countries that opposed the decision to wave vaccine patents, including the US, Australia now support it, while some like the EU and China are on the fence. Germany, on the other hand has outrightly rejected it
From supply chains to vaccines, China has frequently thrown spanner into works of India's COVID-19 battle
From tactfully disallowing Chinese firms to participate in BMC's global vaccine tender to exorbitant pricing of necessary equipment, India's battle against COVID-19 has often run into rough weather with China
WHO classifies India's COVID-19 mutation as 'variant of concern', Delhi flags vaccine shortage; 3.6 lakh cases today
Flagging the higher infectiousness of the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in India last October, the WHO said it might possibly have some increased resistance to vaccine protections