Expressing concern over “unfounded and misleading rumours” circulating in social media with regard to the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, the Central Government has instructed the states and Union Territories to initiate penal action against those spreading misinformation.
The Centre said any such persons or organisations should be punished under the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.
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Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in a letter sent to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs said that there was a need to check such scaremongering.
“I would like to strongly emphasize that the National Regulatory Authority in the country has found both the vaccines safe and immunogenic,” he said in the letter dated January 19.
Urging the respective governments to counter the spread of misinformation, Bhalla said: “Such kind of rumour mongering, particularly by vested interests, can create unwarranted doubts among people at large and there is, therefore, a need to check all kinds of unfounded scare-mongering relating to the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccines.”
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The Union Home Secretary also said the Government of India is taking necessary steps to ensure the vaccination drive is successful and the pandemic is eventually eradicated.
India initiated the rollout of Covishield, developed by the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin across the country from January 16.