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Green Pass Play: In European Countries Recognising Covishield, A Win for India’s Coercive Power

Representational image.

Representational image.

This is proof that approval of vaccines or lack thereof is purely political. India must now push for approval of Covaxin by international health organisations.

Through the COVID-19 crisis we have seen that solutions provided by international organisations and groupings have nothing to do with science but more to do with ecosystems and the greasy pole. The latest example of this is the European Union keeping Indian vaccines out of the approved list in their “green pass” vaccine passport that allows the vaccinated to travel freely.

The problem here is that the vaccines included are exclusively either American or European. Apparently, even a European vaccine produced in India as per the European formula and standards (Covishield) does not qualify for the green pass. The EU claims that this is based on WHO certification of vaccines. Clearly this is rubbish because global health effectively operates as a cartel for special interest groups and some businesses.

A Self-reinforcing Family

The earliest examples of how global health operates can be seen in the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to the WHO presidency. He was a candidate backed and fully supported by China and was elected in a vacuum where America had effectively withdrawn from multilateral institutions. Dr Tedros’ antecedents include support for a genocidal campaign in Ethiopia and whitewashing of Ethiopia’s human rights record. Clearly, he was elected more for his utility as a white-washer than for any great medical expertise.

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Curiously, he is best friends with all those who contested against him to the post he now holds; these other contestants varying with him on virtually no point of policy. Essentially, the choice given to the members of the WHO was a pre-selected palette of people who thought alike and whose business interests aligned perfectly.

One of the business interests that propagated him and seems to control the medical discourse around COVID is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Several former members of this foundation act as office-bearers in the WHO under Dr Tedros, highlighting the fact that the entire global health community is essentially a self-reinforcing family, hiring so-called academics who pedal a corporate line, get elected to the WHO or the editorial board of the Lancet, and essentially determine the entire discourse surrounding global health through vetting, censorship, intimidation, bullying, and pre-selection of candidates.

If any proof is needed, one just needs to look at EcoHealth Alliance and its chairman Peter Daszak who funded research at the Wuhan Virology Institute and at the same time used the Lancet magazine to essentially bully any academic dissent that apportioned blame on China. What is worse is that this man was deep into the global health ecosystem and on a first-name basis with the WHO chief as well as Dr Fauci, and was employed by Facebook to fact check any so-called misinformation about COVID, which he exploited to the hilt by suppressing any information that was damaging to China or his business interests. It says a lot that neither he nor his institute have been blacklisted not any charges filed, not to mention the fact that no single institution or journal has condemned him openly.

Sinovac vs Covaxin

All of this is particularly important when it comes to assessing who has cleared which vaccines for use and who is peddling what line. A classic case is the WHO clearance granted to Chinese vaccines despite their abysmal performance in various geographies. For example, the Sinovac vaccine was found to have just about 50 per cent efficacy rate in Brazil and about the same percentage in other parts of the world that authorised its use. Despite this pathetic record, the WHO cleared it in record time.

On the other hand, the indigenously developed Indian vaccine, Covaxin, has not yet been authorised by the WHO nor has the WHO come out with any kind of categorical defence of the vaccine despite its proven efficacy against both the alpha and delta variants, certified by no less than the United States itself. Combine this with a concerted effort within India not just to increase vaccine hesitancy but also to create public fear around the efficacy of the two Indian vaccines produced in India and the very public advocacy of the Pfizer vaccine by the same people and you have all the ingredients of a calculated and concerted campaign. Mind you the mRNA technology that Pfizer uses is unproven and its consequences over long term as yet undetermined.

No Place for Politeness

Through all this India has been in a precarious position, but it has finally started flexing its muscles, now that the end game is near. After the EU made its announcement that Indian vaccines would not be included in the green pass, the government of India decided that any recognition of vaccination for international travel would be purely reciprocal. This means, the principle being applied to the EU will also be applied to the United States, effectively putting pressure on the WHO to start fast-tracking approvals for Indian vaccines. In itself, this is a big hit to the global health cartel, but the speed at which several countries caved is particularly interesting. At the time of writing, at least 8 European countries had given summary approval to India’s version of the European AstraZeneca vaccine, while Estonia has decided to accept any vaccination approved by the Government of India, particularly surprising because they claimed such authorisation was not automatic.

So what exactly changed? Did these countries overnight change the process and procedures for approval to accommodate the Indian vaccine? Clearly not. This is proof (if needed) that approval of vaccines or lack thereof is purely political. It is now critical that the government understands the extraordinary coercive power it has and rams through the approval of Covaxin by international health organisations, the US, and the EU. If anything the entire EU saga only shows that these people understand might and not politeness. Round 1 to the government.

Disclaimer:Abhijit Iyer-Mitra is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. Views expressed are personal.

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first published:July 01, 2021, 19:32 IST