Madras HC Issues Notice To Centre on Covishield’s Side Effects

The court, which heard the matter through video conferencing, has listed it for next hearing on 26 March.

3 min read
The court, which heard the matter through video conferencing, has listed it for next hearing on 26 March. Image used for representation.

The Madras High Court on Friday, 19 February issued a notice on a writ petition filed by a Covishield's trial volunteer, who claimed to suffer from severe adverse reaction after receiving the vaccine. The notice seeks to get a response from the Centre and five other respondents, including India's drug regulatory body, ICMR, Serum institute of India, AstraZeneca, and Sri Ramachandra Higher education and Research, Chennai.

The court, which heard the matter through video conferencing, has listed it for next hearing on 26 March.

The 41-year-old petitioner, Asif Riaz, has demanded an interim injunction on the administration of Covishield to the public and a compensation of Rs 5 crore for the damages he incurred after undergoing the vaccine trial.

The grievances Riaz mentioned in the petition stated that he suffered from acute neuro encephalopathy days after taking the vaccine shot and his health deteriorated, but the manufacturer dismissed it as a side-effect of the vaccine.

The man, a marketing consultant, said that he was diagnosed after multiple tests with the acute neuro encephalopathy, which alters brain function and causes personality change, memory loss, and declining ability to reason or concentrate.

As per his submission in the petition, Riaz was given a vaccine dose on 1 October after conducting an antigen and antibody test for COVID-19, whose reports came negative. However, on 11 October, he woke up with a severe headache in the morning, which later progressed to a disoriented mental state where he was not able to comprehend his surroundings or respond, coupled with extreme weakness. Later in the day, he was admitted to the emergency ward of Sri Ramachandra Medical college Hospital where he had received the vaccine.

He was shifted to the ICU the next day where he received treatment till 20 October. He was then shifted to a normal ward the next day where he remained till 26 October, before the discharge from the hospital.


"In the 16 days that I was in the hospital, almost all possible medical tests and investigations were done on me to connect my neurological setback to any of my earlier health condition, that is, to connect it to some factor other than the test vaccine that was administered on me on 1 October, but they were unable to conclude or prove anything. The final discharge summary given to me on 26 October categorically shows that all the tests done on me were negative, confirming that the setback in my health was due to the test vaccine I was administered on 1 October 2020, and not because of any prior health condition," he claimed in the petition.

Later, Riaz sent a legal notice to the Serum asking a compensation of Rs 5 crore against the severe adverse reaction he suffered after taking the vaccine shot. However, in return, SII threatened him with a Rs 100 crore defamation suit.

The petitioner also mentioned that even after three months of experiencing the severe side effect, his health is still not stable, as he often experiences trembling of hands, fear, anxiety, trepidation, panic, mood swings, severe dent in self-confidence, and extreme problems in focusing on work. He claimed that he had no history of neurological or rheumatology issues till he underwent the vaccine trial.

Counting the economic repercussions, Riaz claimed that he lost all the projects he was working on post volunteering for the trial, which entails an annual earning of over USD 30,000.


Meanwhile, when the case came in public scrutiny, the Drug Controller General of India formed an independent committee to investigate the causal link of the petitioner's health. The committee report found no connection between the adverse reaction Riaz suffered and the vaccine.

However, Riaz said that he was not given the opportunity to present his case before the committee. The petitioner also cited news reports about the coverage of deaths that have followed after taking the Covishield vaccine, which was rolled out in the immunisation drive on 16 January. He asserted that the vaccine is not safe and could produce severe adverse reactions among its beneficiaries.

However, the Centre has clarified so far that none of the deaths and severe adverse reactions following immunisation have been attributed to the vaccines yet.

(This story has been published in an arrangement with IANS)

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