Madras HC seeks SII's response after man alleges adverse reaction to Covishield

Madras HC seeks SII's response after man alleges adverse reaction to Covishield
The Madras High court on Friday issued a notice to the Union government and five other respondents, seeking their response to a writ petition filed by a volunteer of the Covishield vaccine trial, who claimed to suffer from severe adverse reaction after receiving the vaccine. The respondents include the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Serum institute of India (SII), AstraZeneca and Sri Ramachandra Higher education and Research, Chennai. The court, which heard the matter through video conferencing, has listed it for next hearing on March 26. The 41-year-old petitioner, Asif Riaz, has demanded an interim injunction on the administration of Covishield to the public and a compensation of Rs 5 crore for the damages he incurred after undergoing the vaccine trial. The grievances Riaz mentioned in the petition stated that he suffered from acute neuro encephalopathy days after taking the vaccine shot and deterioration of his health, but the manufacturer allegedly dismissed it as a side-effect of the vaccine. He said that he was diagnosed after multiple tests with the acute neuro encephalopathy, which alters brain function and causes personality change, memory loss and declining ability to reason or concentrate. As per his submission in the petition, Riaz was given a vaccine dose on October 1 after conducting an antigen and antibody test for COVID-19, whose reports came negative. However, on October 11, he woke up with a severe headache, which later progressed to a disoriented mental state where he was not able to comprehend his surroundings or respond, coupled with extreme weakness. Later in the day, he was admitted to the emergency ward of Sri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital, where he had received the vaccine. He was shifted to ICU the next day, where he received treatment till October 20. He was then shifted to a normal ward the next day and discharged around a week later.  "In the 16 days that I was in the hospital, almost all possible medical tests and investigations were done on me to connect my neurological setback to any of my earlier health condition, that is, to connect it to some factor other than the test vaccine that was administered on me on October 1. But they were unable to conclude or prove anything. The final discharge summary given to me on 26 October categorically shows that all the tests done on me were negative, confirming that the setback in my health was due to the test vaccine I was administered on October 1, 2020, and not because of any prior health condition," he claimed in the petition. Later, Riaz sent a legal notice to the Serum Institute of India, seeking compensation of Rs 5 crore against the severe adverse reaction he suffered after taking the vaccine shot. However, in return, SII threatened him with a Rs 100 crore defamation suit. The petitioner also mentioned that even after three months of experiencing the severe side effect, his health is still not stable, as he often experiences trembling of hands, fear, anxiety, trepidation, panic, mood swings, severe dent in self-confidence and extreme problems in focusing on work. He claimed that he had no history of neurological or rheumatology issues until he underwent the vaccine trial. Counting the economic repercussions, Riaz claimed that he lost all the projects he was working on post volunteering for the trial, which entails an annual earning of over USD 30,000. Meanwhile, when the case came in public scrutiny, the Drug Controller General of India formed an independent committee to investigate the causal link of the petitioner's health. The committee report found no connection between the adverse reaction Riaz suffered and the vaccine. However, Riaz said that he was not given the opportunity to present his case before the committee. The petitioner also cited news reports about the coverage of deaths that have occurred after the administration of the Covishield vaccine, which was rolled out in the immunisation drive on January 16. He asserted that the vaccine is not safe and could produce severe adverse reactions among its beneficiaries. However, the Union government has clarified so far that none of the deaths and severe adverse reactions following immunisation have been attributed to the vaccines as yet.

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