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WHO official responds to claim Modi batted for Covaxin; Swamy blames 'BJP IT cell'

Stern tweeted about the nature of the organisation's vaccine approval process

covaxin Representational image | Bharat Biotech

The WHO on Wednesday granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) to Covaxin, the indigenously developed COVID vaccine.

The news was welcomed across India, as the WHO approval is expected to lead to more countries recognising Covaxin and thereby allowing entry for people who received the vaccine.

After the decision was announced, some media agencies reported Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pushed for expedited approval for Covaxin when he met WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the G20 summit in Rome last week.

Bharat Biotech had submitted documents in July to the WHO for the approval process.

A WHO official responded to a tweet by a journalist about Modi having pushed for approval for Covaxin. Gabby Stern, who is director of communications for the WHO, tweeted on Wednesday about the nature of the organisation's vaccine approval process.

Stern wrote, "... @WHO's process for assessing #COVID19 vaccines for emergency use listing is rigorous, scientific and standardized. It involves outside experts on a technical advisory group who review data from manufacturers and others to ensure efficacy and safety."

Stern also responded to a user who asked how Chinese-made vaccines received approval "within 10 days of application". Stern responded "10 days is not accurate for any of the #COVID19 vaccines which were assessed for emergency use listing by the technical advisory group. Indeed, the assessment of #Covaxin has taken less time than several other vaccines. Some took more than 3 months."

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy also questioned the claims of Modi pushing for Covaxin approval with WHO. He blamed the reports on the BJP’s social media wing. He tweeted, "… Obviously BJP IT Cell gone rogue has bad influence on some in media."

Swamy has been a supporter of Covaxin for several months and publicly declared he had received the indigenous vaccine.

For more than a year, Swamy has been critical of some BJP leaders who he claimed were targeting him on social media using the IT cell. Swamy has also criticised Amit Malviya, convener of the BJP's IT operations.

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