Notice Issued to BHU Researchers Over Covaxin Claims; ICMR Raises Concerns

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A year-long study conducted by Banaras Hindu University scientists on Covaxin’s side effects draws scrutiny from medical authorities, triggering legal and administrative action.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – In a recent development concerning the safety and efficacy of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, a notice has been issued to researchers from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) following their claims regarding adverse health effects associated with the vaccine.

The study, conducted over a year by a team of scientists at BHU, asserted that approximately one-third of individuals who received Covaxin experienced health complications, particularly affecting the skin and nervous system, with teenagers being particularly susceptible. However, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has expressed strong objections to the findings, distancing itself from the study and demanding explanations from the researchers.

The notice, directed at two BHU scientists who spearheaded the research, seeks clarification on various aspects of the study, emphasising that the council disavows any association with the research or its conclusions.

Dr. Rajeev Bahl, Director General of ICMR, underscored the lack of approval from the council for the study and demanded the removal of any references linking ICMR to the research. Additionally, concerns were raised regarding the absence of a comparative analysis between vaccinated individuals and non-vaccinated counterparts, as well as insufficient data regarding the medical history of participants.

The study, conducted by the Department of Pharmacology and Geriatrics at BHU, highlighted significant side effects observed among recipients of Covaxin, including strokes, blood clots, hair loss, and skin issues. Prof. Shubh Shankh Chakraborty, head of the Geriatrics Department, and Dr. Upinder Kaur from the Department of Pharmacology led the research, which garnered widespread attention and sparked apprehensions.

In response to the notice, BHU Vice Chancellor Prof. Sudhir Jain, also serving as Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences, initiated an internal inquiry into the matter. Prof. S.N. Sankhwar, Director of the Institute, acknowledged the expedited nature of the research and commissioned further investigation. A four-member committee has been tasked with scrutinising the methodology and findings of the study.

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