Bar on Covid-19 vaccine for those under 45 arbitrary, unreasonable: Plea before SC

Tehseen Poonawalla moves Supreme Court seeking directions to allow vaccinations for all, including those under the age of 45


Political commentator Tehseen Poonawalla has moved the Supreme Court seeking its intervention and direction to the Government of India, to allow vaccinations for all citizens  including those under the age of 45. The plea filed in the Supreme Court on Monday, challenges the Centre’s decision on COVID-19 vaccination only to “prioritized age groups” above 45 years and sought doses for all citizens.

The plea states, “It is surprising why the central government did not allow more people to be vaccinated despite India being the “vaccine manufacturer” of the world”. It comes on a day where India overtook Brazil and recorded the second Covid-19 tally worldwide. The current vaccination drive, which this week is titled “teeka utsav” or vaccination festival, is only open to those over the age of 45. However, Covid-19 cases are on the rise across age groups, at high risk are also younger people who already have comorbidities such as respiratory illnesses, diabetes, etc, which according to the globally recognised Covid-19 protocol makes them “vulnerable to the virus,” however, they still are not allowed to be protected by the vaccine. 

Media reports quoted the plea stating, “This arbitrary bar on the age-groups coupled with the sudden rise in the number of infections due to Covid-19 disease…necessitates immediate steps to be taken to ensure that vaccination is not only available to persons aged above 45 years but to all such persons, even below the age of 45-years, who are employed in work that requires them to go outside every day as well as all persons with any of the co-morbid conditions as vulnerable groups.” 

Poonawalla has called the bar on availability of approved vaccines to persons below the age of 45 years, “arbitrary, unreasonable and ultra vires Article 21, which guarantees a right to life, not being a mere animal existence but including within it the right to dignity and appropriate healthcare as well as Article 14, which envisages a right to equality to all the citizens.” He has sought that the SC directs the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to make effective changes in its policy to ensure vaccination for Covid-19 to all citizens of the country.

After front line workers, and senior citizens, on April 1 the Centre had also allowed all those above 45 years in age to get anyone one of the two vaccines — Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. However, the age limit question may also open up a Pandora box of queries if India actually has the bandwidth in place to produce enough Covid-19 vaccines to cover all adults at least.

On Monday the Government’s own data showed that “India’s daily new cases continue to rise. 1,68,912 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours.Ten States including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have shown a rise in the Covid daily new cases.”

According to the Centre the “cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 10.45 Cr” on Monday.


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