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Krishna Ella Slams Poonawalla’s ‘Safe, Like Water’ Vaccine Remark

According to Adar Poonawalla, only three vaccines had proven efficacy - Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Updated
India
2 min read
Dr. Krishna Ella and Adar Poonawalla.
i

After CEO of Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla on Sunday, 3 January told NDTV that only Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca had proven efficacy, saying that other vaccine candidates, including Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, were “safe, just like water”, the chairman of Bharat Biotech Dr Krishna Ella retorted in a press conference on Monday.

A visibly displeased Dr Ella said that his company had conducted “200 percent honest clinical trials” during his virtual press meet, and that they “don’t deserve this backlash.”

“If I am wrong, tell me. Some companies have branded me like 'water'. I want to deny that. We are scientists,” he added.

Aggravated by Poonawalla’s statement, he also went on say, “Covaxin has shown less than 10% adverse reactions, while others have 60-70% adverse reactions. AstraZeneca was giving 4g paracetamol to volunteers to suppress such reactions. We haven’t given paracetamol to any volunteer,” ANI quoted.
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He also claimed that Bharat Biotech “had the only BSL-3 (bio-safety level 3) production facility in the world" adding that it also has “tremendous experience in vaccines.”

‘We Have Good Immunisation Data’

On Sunday, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin was given approval for "restricted use in emergency situation in public interest." This decision led to critics highlighting a lack of its efficacy data.

While AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s Covishield has completed its phase three trials, Covaxin has only completed clinical trials for phase one and two. The third phase, which tests for efficacy, is still underway.

However, Dr Ella said that granting emergency use authorisation after completion of phase two trials is a common medical practice.

Merck’s Ebola vaccine never completed a human clinical trial at all but WHO gave it emergency authorisation for Liberia and Guinea....Even US government says emergency authorisation can be given if a company has good immunisation data.
Dr Krishna Ella

According to him, Covaxin’s criticism was on account of Bharat Biotech being an Indian company. “I don't know why Indian companies are targeted by everyone in the world,” he said in the virtual press meet.

Further, he indicated that Covaxin’s phase 3 trial data would be available in March 2021, at a time when India will be well into the vaccination drive.

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