The Supreme Court recently sought response from the Center on its plea seeking ban on the manufacture, sale and use of 5-in-1 Pentavalent Vaccine which is currently in use as an inoculation against hepatitis-B, Haemophilus Influenza Type-B, Pertussis, Tetanus and Diphtheria.
The SC has issued notices to agencies like Drug Controller of India, Christian Medical College and others apart from the Central Government in this regard. A bench comprising Chief Justice P.Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai issued the notice even as senior counsel, Colin Gonsalves told the court that the pentavalent vaccine was being needlessly pushed as a replacement for the existing DPT -Diptheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus Vaccine administered to infants.
Meanwhile, PIL petitioner, Yogesh Jain stated in his petition that the pentavalent vaccine includes inoculation against Hepatitis-B and Hib apart from inoculation against DPT and this was introduced after conducting year-long trials in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. He said that several infant deaths have been reported after introducing pentavalent vaccine in State Universal Immunization Programs-UIPs. Approximately 21 such death have been reported so far while some experts opined that many more deaths have occurred but have gone unreported.
Mr.Jain claimed that the burden of Hepatitis-B and Hib are so low in India that deaths due to administration of the vaccine seem to outnumber lives saved from the diseases. The petition stated that by failing to monitor, report and initiate action on receipt of death reports caused by pentavalent vaccine, both the government and Drug Controller have failed to abide by their constitutional obligations to protect rights of children and their families in India as stipulated in Article 21 of our constitution.
Senior Counsel, Mr. Gonsalves observed that the pentavelent vaccine was not in use in nations like US, Canada, Japan, Europe while its use was stopped in nations including Vietnam, Pakistan, Bhutan and Sri Lanka after reports of deaths and serious adverse events. The PIL has sought withdrawal of pentavalent vaccine with immediate effect from the UIPs and also sought compensation to the bereaved families whose children have died or suffered serious adverse effects.