A post with a tweet from Sreenivasan Jain is being widely shared on social media. The tweet says, ‘Breaking: the head of the Govt’s vaccine advisory panel Dr. NK Arora tells me initial batches of Covaxin ‘were not of the right quality’. The post even claims this to be the game of Big Pharma. Sreenivasan Jain is a journalist working for NDTV. Let us fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: Dr. NK Arora, the head of Government’s vaccine advisory panel said that the initial batches of Covaxin administered to people were not of right quality.
Fact: Government’s vaccine advisory panel head, Dr. NK Arora did not say that the initial batches of Covaxin administered to people were not of right quality. Dr. NK Arora, the Chief of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, said that the new Bangalore plant of Bharat Biotech had initial hiccups in supplying Covaxin because the first couple of batches ‘were not of the right quality’. These were test batches that got rejected and were not administered as part of the vaccination campaign. Further batches which received approval have moved forward. Sreenivasan Jain, the journalist who interviewed Dr. Arora also later clarified via twitter that these batches of Covaxin did not make their way into the vaccination programme. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
Sreenivasan Jain is a journalist and anchor of the program ‘Reality Check’ which airs on NDTV. When we searched for tweets on Sreenivasan Jain’s official Twitter handle, a tweet thread with his Clarification/Apology was found. He clarified that in his earlier (now-deleted) tweets (here and here) that he was not ‘explicitly clear that the initial batches of Covaxin found substandard did not make their way into the vaccination programme.’ He apologised for ‘any confusion caused as a result’ and he deleted the original tweet based on Dr. NK Arora’s (Chief of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group) interview with him.
The Full interview (Reality Check program – NDTV) by Sreenivasan Jain with Dr. NK Arora was published on 02 August 2021 on YouTube. In this interview, Dr. NK Arora did not say that the initial batches of Covaxin administered to people were not of the right quality. When asked about the shortfall in production of Covaxin, Dr. Arora said that the first couple batches produced at Bharat Biotech’s Bengaluru facility ‘were not of the right quality’ but the ‘third and fourth batches have now come up which have moved forward’. Dr. NK Arora never said that the first two batches were part of the vaccination campaign or were administered to the people.
Dr. NK Arora did speak to ANI about the delayed Covaxin production by Bharat Biotech Bangalore plant. Speaking to ANI, Arora said, ‘The test batches of that plant weren’t satisfactory and got rejected which led to delay in ramping up production, but now the batches have been approved by the competent authority and will be available for public consumption.”
In an interview with DD News, Dr. NK Arora assured the citizens that Covaxin meets safety standards. He further explained that whenever there is a new plant (like the Bangalore Bharat Biotech plant), new trial batches are produced (called test batches) and they are tested (in Central Drugs Laboratory in Kasauli) for approval.
To sum it up, the head of the Government’s vaccine advisory panel did not say that the initial batches of Covaxin administered to people ‘were not of the right quality’.