Unethical Lies Of Pharmaceutical Giants Stand Exposed- II

Analysis

by Dr. Jaipal Singh

 

Bullying Efforts Failed with

 

Ironically, while most other countries in the world were unitedly fighting since 2020 and, in fact, this war is still on to subdue and defeat the deadly virus with minimum loss of life and other collateral damages, but for India it has been altogether an entirely different battle. The opposition led by the legendary Congress Party, a section of left-leaning media, and self-proclaimed liberal and intellectuals as well as a section of population following them have used the pandemic an opportunity to embarrass and topple the central government by any means, if feasible. For this, they have constantly resorted to propaganda, criticism and hurdles not only during unrelated developments such as the Sino-Indian border clashes in Galwan and other places, terror incidents caused by Pakistan sponsored terrorists and commensurate retaliatory action by the Indian security forces, Citizen (Amendment) Act to facilitate rehabilitation of the persecuted families taken refuge from the neighbouring Islamic countries, agriculture reform laws, etc., but also all Covid-19 related developments such as violations of the Covid protocol by the Tablighi Jamaat and their followers across the country, misinformation campaign among the Muslim community about the vaccination & treatment, overestimation and spread of misinformation about the number of Covid patients and dead, indigenous efforts of developing vaccines followed by the massive vaccination programme, and so on.

Thus in India’s case it has not been just a fight against the coronavirus during the pandemic but the government and entire executive machinery had to face and counter constant slur and slander of malicious propaganda, criticism and hurdles created by the aforesaid class in performance of their duty. The misconduct and health hazard created by the members of the Jamaat posed a major challenge in the country in the initial months for the administration, police and health workers while the position was further aggravated by the irresponsible opposition politicians, pseudo-intellectuals and liberals and biased media, who defended the misdemeanour of the Jamaat members with allegations that the government was out to create Islamophobia and communal divide in the country. Similarly, due to similar propaganda and misinformation, a large population of the Muslim community continued to ignore Covid protocol at public places such as wearing masks or showing interest in the vaccination programme. The vested interests had spread misinformation to make many of them to believe that the vaccination is aimed by the Bhartiya Janta Party government to make them infertile or even with a conspiracy to kill them.

On the Covid vaccines front, the very set of vested interests constantly raised questions and doubts about the capability of the Indian scientists and government to develop indigenous vaccines as also the efficacy of such vaccines in providing protection against the Covid-19 disease. When the vaccines namely Covishield (in collaboration with Oxford-AstraGeneca of UK) and Covaxin (indigenous by Bharat Biotech and ICMR) were approved for the emergency use, many questions were raised about inadequate trial and undue hurry for vaccination risking the life of citizens. In fact, a famous politician and erstwhile chief minister of a state is on record of linking the vaccine with the ruling political party in his rhetoric of inciting people for the opinion building against the vaccine. He even refused to use the vaccine asking his cadre to boycott it, although it is a different tale that most of these people were rather prompt to get early vaccinated. Later, the Indian vaccination programme turned out to be a success story in as much as the world’s most ambitious and effective Covid vaccination drive. During this entire saga, there was yet another section of Indian opposition politicians and liberals/intellectuals who, while being constantly skeptic about the vaccines in use i.e. Covishield and Covaxin, were constantly putting pressure on the government through a bitter criticism in not approving import of Pfizer vaccine.

Just to illustrate how politicians and liberals were after the Indian government to pressurize them through public statements and media utterances to take decision for the import of the US based Covid vaccines, the following few tweets would be suffice:

On one occasion, the Congress veteran and heavyweight politician P. Chidambaram tweeted on 27 December 2021 – “People are surprised that only three vaccines have been made available in India: Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik. Of the three, you can write off Sputnik because only a small quantity was imported in the initial days.”

He later also added that the country was left with only 2 vaccines thanks to the protectionist policy of the Modi Government Pfizer, Moderna, and other WHO-approved vaccines are kept out of India on one pretext or other which is why we didn’t have enough vaccines to administer two doses to the 94 crore adult population.

This was not just the opposition politicians alone, but a number of other politicians, left-leaning journalists and liberals/intellectuals too have expressed similar opinion favouring Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. On one occasion, Chetan Bhagat, a famous Indian author and a liberal face tweeted on 28 April 2021as under:

“The Pfizer vaccine, one of the best ones, used in most developed countries, applied for permission in India in Dec-2020. India instead asked them to do more studies here, Pfizer withdraw its application in Feb-21. Imagine lives saved if we allowed the vaccine from December itself.”

Notwithstanding provocation and criticism from various external and internal sources, the Government of India avoided controversies to a large extent by avoiding reply of such most often ignorant or ill-informed and even purported public statements and utterances. However, recently Union Minister of State for Electronics and Rajeev Chandrasekhar has spilled beans when he publicly revealed that the global pharmaceutical firm and heavyweight Pfizer had indeed tried to bully the Indian Government into accepting an indemnity clause for supplying its mRNA Covid vaccine. He also added that the senior leaders in opposition, particularly Rahul Gandhi, P. Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh, continued to promote the case for providing foreign vaccination in India during the coronavirus pandemic rather than choosing the home-bred vaccines.

The statement makes sense because an application from the pharma giant was indeed considered and stalemate continued for a considerable time in 2021. As against the indigenous Covishield and Covaxin, considering the market price of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, its procurement would have been rather cost prohibitive but more important than this, the irresponsible and unpalatable condition of seeking sovereign indemnity from the government about any legal responsibility and accountability was something that a capable, self-respecting and responsible government would not accept. It is of common knowledge that other than the US Pharmaceutical firms, only Russia, India and China could prove their potential in time to produce their own indigenous vaccines. Due to the very nature of a democratic government and huge target population, only India could have been targeted by the giant pharmaceutical firms like Pfizer and it indeed lobbied and did so but its unsavoury attempts were frustrated by the powerful and strongly India-centric Modi Government.

Needless to mention, India has recently completed two years of its largely indigenous and successful vaccination drive. As on 20 January 2023, over 2,202.86 million vaccine dozes have been administered so far to the population of various ages. By all means, this could be stated as the world’s largest and most successful vaccination drive sans the presence or participation of the US Pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Moderna. The most ironical part of it is that the World Health Organization had been so prompt in clearing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for its emergency use as well as Chinese vaccines namely Sinovac and Sinopharm while they kept pending similar clearance to Indian Covaxin for months together on various pretexts. However, when we take a glance on the users’ efficacy of these vaccines, we find the US and European countries mostly using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still reporting substantial numbers of daily new patients and deaths, China is currently reeling under a massive corona wave with death in large numbers putting a serious question mark on the efficacy of Chinese vaccines (Even top Chinese epidemiologist have accepted this) while India is comfortable and smiling with less than 150 cases daily reported nationwide with only occasional deaths, if any.

 

Postscript

Mark Twain’s aforesaid saying is truly vindicated in the context of the current global corona pandemic. The tall claims made by the lead US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and some other manufacturers about their costly vaccines including the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm have been fully exposed with the passage of time. During the midst of corona crisis, India indeed faced a major challenge of securing enough vaccines for its population. The government sought cooperation from abroad but faced stiff resistance and unacceptable conditions from the firms like Pfizer and Moderna, who were more interested and oriented towards profiteering during crisis. In such conditions, committed and diligent efforts of the Indian scientists and bio-technology firms fully endorsed by resolve of the government to make such efforts rather than bowing under pressure of foreign firms proved to be successful and remunerating in terms of  low cost and more effective indigenous vaccines. In many ghoul or ghost fantasy movies and stories of the West, we often see or read about the blood-thirsty vampires who dwell upon the human blood for own survival but here in the real world we are to live and deal with many arth-pishachas (money-ghouls) ready to capitalize and fleece upon even basic human living means.

(Courtesy:www.boloji.com)

Concluded

(The Author is a former civil servant and his core areas of specialization have been public administration, finance, information technology, human resource development, budget and planning, and legal matters)