By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to take penal action against those spreading ‘misinformation’ and ‘ill-informed rumours’ against Covid-19 vaccines.
“Penal action may be taken against the people and organisations found to have indulged in such activities, under the relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860,” Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said.
Rumours are circulating on social and other media, creating doubts about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines, Bhalla said, stressing that the two vaccines cleared by India are safe.
“Rumour mongering, particularly by vested interests, can create unwarranted doubts among people at large, and there is therefore, a need to check such kinds of unfounded scare mongering relating to the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccines,” Bhalla’s letter states.
The home secretary urged the states to put in place a mechanism to check the spread of rumours and also asked them to promptly disseminate factual messages regarding the issues.
The National Regulatory Authority declared safe two vaccines — AstraZeneca Covishield made by local partner Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin — following which India’s vaccination drive started on January 16.
Doctors in some states had expressing concern over being inoculated with Covaxin, which saw a bit of controversy after it got the green light on a ‘clinical trial mode’, even though the third phase of its trials is still ongoing.