Mission Vaccine: Controversy over ‘Covishield’ name; notice issued to SII

6 January, 2021 | Rakshanda Afrin

Controversy has arisen over the name of Adar Poonawala's Pune-based Serum Institue of India's vaccine. A civil court in Pune issued a notice to SII on the application of a pharmaceutical company an...

India is all set to receive the 1st Covid-19 vaccine as the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Sunday has approved Oxford AstraZeneca’s CoviShield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for restricted use in India. India is gearing up to begin the biggest vaccination drive for one nation in history. However, controversy has arisen over the name of the Pune-based Serum Institue of India’s vaccine. A civil court in Pune issued a notice to SII on the application of a pharmaceutical company and vendor.

This vaccine, prepared by Oxford University, has been named ‘Covishield’ but at the same time, Adar Poonawala’s company has received notice regarding the name of the vaccine. The notice requested the Serum Institute of India to stop using ‘Covishield’ trademarks or other similar names in its upcoming covid-19 vaccination. This has been filed by Maharashtra’s Nanded-based firm, Cutis-Biotech claiming that they had been using the ‘Kovishield’ trademark since 2020 for their products such as antiseptic, sanitizer, etc.

In the said case, the company applied for registration of the Kovishield trademark on 29 April 2020, which is pending and the company has been using this trademark for its products since 30 May 2020. Meanwhile, a joint statement of the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech said that they both jointly pledge to provide global access for their COVID-19 vaccines. They issued a joint statement stating that they ‘will work together’ to supply the Covid vaccines to the citizens of the country. Bharat Biotech Chairman and MD Dr. Krishna Ella had hit back at critics on the emergency approval and also took a jibe at Poonawala’s SII asking why data from global trials of Covishield vaccine produced was not being questioned similarly.

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Bharat Biotech’s vaccine has been embroiled in some sort of controversies as certain Industry experts, opposition leaders and the public have expressed concern over the absence of Phase 3 trial data on Covaxin. Many have raised questions on the clearance given to Covaxin. Bharat Biotech MD Krishna Ella said to media that COVAXIN has generated excellent safety data with robust immune responses to multiple viral proteins that persist. Chief of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava clearing doubts over the vaccine said that Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine has been cleared in the clinical trial mode. Adar Poonawala has welcomed the vaccine announcement, said that “all-risk that SII took has paid off and they are ready for rollout in the coming weeks.”