Kerala High Court asked Centre to place a time frame within which it is likely to provide the COVID-19 vaccine [14.5.2021]

14.5.2021, Friday

The Kerala High Court on Friday asked the Central Government to place a time frame within which it is likely to provide the COVID-19 vaccines allocated for the state of Kerala.

A Bench of Justices Raja Vijayaraghavan V and MR Anitha made the oral request while also seeking the Centre's response on a plea for transfer of technology and patent rights concerning Bharat Biotech's vaccine, Covaxin, so that other manufacturers may also produce the said vaccine.

"When are we going to get the vaccine? ... if you delay the whole thing, new mutations will come up, people will die... We have asked you to put up details of vaccines to the state of Kerala.. Where is it," the court asked during the hearing today, as per a report carried by Bar & Bench.

The court clarified that it is only asking for details on the time frame within which the vaccines allocated for Kerala would be supplied.

Referring to statistics uploaded on a state website, the court expressed concern over the number of persons yet to get their vaccine doses.

"Give a time frame within which vaccines will be supplied to Kerala.. the way in which (it is to be supplied) and the time within which vaccines can be supplied for immunising Kerala.. give a timeline so we can get a picture ... We want to just get an idea," the court requested the Centre.

The Centre, in turn, assured that it can file a statement on this aspect if some time is given.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that there are at least 19 other vaccine manufacturers who may be able to produce the vaccine if the Centre agrees to transfer the technology. In this regard, he also referred to the Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (KSDP).

Appearing for the Centre, standing counsel Raj Kumar argued that these are matters lying in the realm of Central government policy. He added that there are intricacies involved and that the Centre can place its stance before the court if some time is given.

In view of the request, the court posted the matter on Friday.

The court, on its part, expressed concern whether there are facilities in the state with sufficient bio-safety levels to manufacture Covaxin. Justice Vijayaraghavan observed that COVAXIN is an inactivated virus, which requires level 3 bio-safety facilities for its production. As such, he queried whether there are any laboratories that can safely produce the vaccine.

State attorney KV Sohan submitted that the focus right now should be on ensuring that the Centre provides as many vaccines as possible to Kerala.

14 May 2021