MORE THAN 40 lakh teenagers in the 15-18 age group received their first dose of Covid19 vaccines on Monday as India began its drive to vaccinate the younger population groups. Some concerns were raised about 'expired' Covaxin being administered to this younger group, leading to the Health Ministry issuing a clarification.
The Ministry described these claims as “false and misleading” and said these were based on “incomplete information”. It pointed out that the shelf life of Covaxin, the only vaccine being given to the people below 18 years of age, had been extended in November after proper regulatory scrutiny, and as such these vaccine doses were as good as any.
What led to the concerns?
The anxiety arose after several people pointed out that vaccine batches that were supposed to expire in November were being administered to the younger people on Monday. The government later clarified that the shelf life of these vaccines had been extended from nine months to 12 months in November itself, and therefore there was nothing wrong with these batches.
The Health Ministry said the shelf life of vaccines is extended by the national regulator, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, or CDSCO, based on a comprehensive analysis and examination of stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers. It also pointed out that CDSCO has earlier approved the extension of shelf life of Covishield as well, and nothing special had been done to Covaxin.
Why was the date of expiry of Covaxin extended?
In response to an application from Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of Covaxin, the CDSCO on October 25, 2021 approved the extension of the shelf life of this indigenously developed vaccine from 9 to 12 months from the date of manufacture. This approval was based on the availability of additional “stability data" which was submitted by the firm to CDSCO.
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