Saturday, October 23, 2021

Polio vaccine shipments spark safety fears in India

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Image copyright IMSU Image caption Women in India are demanding a ban on the use of the jab

Indian pharmaceuticals giant Cipla says it will export eight million rubbers next month for use as vaccinations against pneumonia and diphtheria.

World Health Organisation guidelines allow the use of the rubbers in India.

There are fears that if the jab is banned elsewhere in the world it could be widely used by parents in India.

The ministry of health and family welfare said there had been “scenarios where the child’s life is threatened as a result of unsafe immunisation”.

The rubbers, which are made from the inactivated polio vaccine, are not made of live polio particles, but are thus closely related to live polio, WHO officials said.

Image copyright IMSU Image caption Activists were angry that the vaccines were being shipped from the back of a truck

The EU is considering an import ban on the rubbers due to fears they were brought from Russia and not in a “sterile and clean” body of cold storage.

Indian authorities have said they have “no way of verifying” that the rubbers are “untainted” and will not force Cipla to keep their source in Russia secret.

“The concerned ministry has taken steps towards ensuring that the concerns of safety of the rubbers would be addressed,” its statement said.

But activists campaigning for the ban said they were “absolutely furious” that 8m rubbers were about to be shipped from India to Europe.

“This proves that Pakistan is the main source of such vaccines to Europe,” social activist Malini Aisola said.

“There is no attempt at all to trace the source of the rubbers or trace who bought these vaccines in India and why,” she said.

India approved the rubbers in April, paving the way for the country to export them to countries that vaccinate their children against polio.

Only 13 countries use the rubbers, including Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Romania and South Africa.

If they can’t be used as vaccinations there are fears that they could be readily offered by parents as a safety measure when they bring their children for vaccinations.

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