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Unraveling Covishield Issue: Recent Developments and Legal Proceedings Surrounding AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine

Amritanshu Raj

Recent statements by AstraZeneca regarding potential adverse effects associated with its COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, have sparked renewed concerns among recipients. This revelation coincides with ongoing legal proceedings in the United Kingdom and a petition filed in the Indian Supreme Court, both shedding light on the necessity for a deeper investigation into the vaccine’s safety. Against the backdrop of these developments, the discourse surrounding vaccine mandates, clinical trial transparency, and adverse event reporting has gained renewed traction, emphasizing the urgency of addressing emerging challenges in the global vaccination effort.



The Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford, has been a cornerstone of India’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. With over 175 crore doses administered in India alone, its widespread use has been based on government assurances regarding safety and efficacy. However, recent revelations from the UK have raised concerns about potential side effects, particularly the occurrence of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) in rare cases. A class-action lawsuit against AstraZeneca in the UK, citing vaccine-related deaths and injuries, has brought these concerns to the forefront.


Indian Supreme Court’s Take:

In May 2022, the Indian Supreme Court delivered a significant judgment addressing various aspects of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination policy. The case, Dr. Jacob Puliyel v. Union of India, challenged vaccine mandates imposed by states and called for greater transparency regarding clinical trial data and adverse event reporting. While affirming the right to bodily integrity, the Court also recognized the government’s authority to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of public health. However, it deemed existing vaccine mandates disproportionate and directed their review. Additionally, the Court emphasized the importance of disclosing post-approval clinical trial data while endorsing the protocol for adverse event reporting developed by the Union Government.


UK Court Proceedings:

AstraZeneca’s admission of potential side effects associated with its COVID-19 vaccine emerged during a class-action lawsuit in the High Court of London. The company’s acknowledgment of TTS as a rare adverse effect has underscored ongoing concerns regarding vaccine safety. The case, filed by individuals alleging vaccine-related injuries, highlights the need for comprehensive investigation and accountability in addressing such claims. Instances like Jamie Scott’s permanent brain injury post-vaccination have intensified scrutiny and demand for transparency in vaccine development and distribution.


Petition in Indian Supreme Court:

Vishal Tiwari’s petition in the Indian Supreme Court seeks to establish a medical expert panel to study Covishield’s side effects and risk factors. With over 175 crore doses administered in India, concerns about potential adverse effects have gained prominence following AstraZeneca’s admission. The petition also advocates for the implementation of a vaccine damage payment system akin to the UK’s scheme to support individuals experiencing severe side effects. It underscores the need for proactive measures to address vaccine-related injuries and ensure accountability within the vaccination program.


US Court Verdict and International Treaty:

India’s supply of Covishield to the US is not merely an act of charity but a fulfillment of international obligations under the terms of the COVAX initiative. The COVAX initiative, led by organizations like Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. India’s role as a major vaccine manufacturer has been instrumental in fulfilling its commitment to global vaccine distribution. However, recent legal and safety challenges surrounding Covishield underscore the importance of comprehensive oversight and transparency in vaccine procurement and distribution processes.


AstraZeneca’s Statement and Legal Challenges:

AstraZeneca’s acknowledgment of potential side effects associated with Covishield, particularly TTS, reflects ongoing legal challenges and scrutiny surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. The company’s collaboration with the University of Oxford in vaccine development has faced allegations of vaccine-related deaths and severe harm. Legal proceedings, including class-action lawsuits, highlight the need for robust safety protocols, transparent reporting mechanisms, and accountability within the pharmaceutical industry. As vaccine distribution continues on a global scale, addressing concerns about safety and efficacy remains paramount in ensuring public trust and confidence.

The acknowledgment of potential adverse effects related to Covishield by AstraZeneca, along with ongoing legal proceedings and petitions in the Indian Supreme Court, underscores the need for comprehensive investigation, transparency, and accountability in vaccine distribution and safety. As countries grapple with the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, addressing concerns about vaccine-related injuries and ensuring equitable access to vaccines remain key priorities. Moving forward, proactive measures, including robust adverse event reporting systems and international collaboration, are essential in building public trust and confidence in vaccination efforts.

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