Centre bars states from sharing Covid-19 vaccine information

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry has prohibited states from sharing Covid-19 vaccine stock-related information to any other agency or organisation, calling it “sensitive”, it has emerged. States are supposed to update the Centre on stock and transactions of all vaccines, those included in its Universal Immunisation Programme as well as using the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (EVIN), a management system implemented in India with the help of the United Nations Development Programme.

The eVIN system is used to track the vaccine stock status and temperature at all levels of vaccine storage from the national to sub-district levels after being launched in 2012-13. 

​“It is overwhelming to see that all states are using the system to update the stock and transactions of Covid-19 vaccines on a daily basis,” said a letter issued to the mission director of the National Health Mission in states on June 4 by the ministry.

The letter added that data and analytics generated by eVIN for inventory and temperature are owned by the ministry and should not be shared with any other organisation, partner or media agency, online and offline public forums without consent. 

“This is sensitive information and to be used only for programme improvement,” the letter added.

The letter has come at a time when questions are being raised on the lack of centralised vaccine availability data in the public domain and opacity in the vaccine distribution plan to states. Officials in the ministry, however, insisted that this was a routine letter issued to states and is sent periodically on all vaccines and was not issued specifically for Covid-19 vaccines.

“That is because information related to vaccine consumption and cold storage etc. can be used by private companies to push their trade agendas in specific areas,” clarified an official in the reproductive and child division of the ministry. Another official said data related to vaccines is also updated on the CoWIN portal.