The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the response of the Central Government with regards to the administration of booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine and the timeline within which the same is proposed to be rolled out, if at all necessary to be administered.
The Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh stressed upon the need and efficacy of the booster dose for those who have been completely vaccinated against the virus. The Court took note of other foreign countries including the USA and Europe which have permitted and are advocating the administration of a booster dose.
"As per news report, even Israel is also promoting the administration of booster dose. On the other hand, it appears from the news reports that the stand of the experts is that at present there is no medical evidence to support the administration of booster dose," the Court noted.
Furthermore, the Court also said that the level of antibodies in a person's body having been completely vaccinated fall with the passage of time and that the said aspect was raising a lot of concerns in the minds of people at large, particularly those falling in the old age bracket and those suffering from other diseases.
"Let the Union of India file an affidavit for administration of booster dose and timeline within which it is proposed to be rolled out on the Aarogya Setu app, if it is necessary," the Court directed.
During the course of hearing, Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao flagged the issues regarding the functioning of the delhifightscorona.in website maintained by the Delhi Government.
Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra on instructions submitted that the website was last updated on 22nd November 2021. However, the Court asked the Delhi Government to file a further status report on the issue.
Furthermore, the Court was also apprised by Rao that the information regarding EWS beds was still not available on the said website and that the process of several webpages for translation to Hindi was incomplete. He also pointed out out that while some hospitals were updating the availability of beds on the website, others were not doing so.
"Let the GNCTD file a status report in this regard while ensuring that the system put in place should continue to work efficiently," the Court directed further.
The Court also directed the Delhi Government to ensure that the orders, information, data and statistics relating to Covid-19 are duly updated periodically on the website.
On the other hand, Anurag Ahluwalia appearing for the Centre apprised the Court that the website maintained by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was being updated on a daily basis.
At the outset, the Court expressed its concern about the fact as to whether the Delhi Government will be able to give their services in a short notice in case the country witnesses a third Covid wave. The Court said that it's purpose is to sensitize both the Governments on the said issue.
"In the light of the present state of the pandemic, our present concern is only whether the GNCTD would be in a position to render their services and sources on short notice in the unfortunate event of the country experiencing a third covid wave. Our purpose is to only sensitise both the governments of the need for them and readiness on the possibility of the third wave hitting us. We hope and expect that this aspect of information from all relevant portals," the Court said.
The matter concerning the issue of booster dose will now be considered in December.
Earlier, the Court had sought response of the Centre and Delhi Government on various aspects including the import and domestic production of Amphotericin B drug for treating black fungus and the steps for creating buffer stock of oxygen by the Centre and Delhi Government.
During the previous hearings, the Court had directed the Centre to spell out its policy with regard to the priority of patients who should be administered the said drug, to maximize the lives that could be saved, amongst patients suffering from Mucormycosis also known as black fungus.
It also asked the Centre as to how camps run by Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), in collaboration with Private Hospitals, may be able to work out in boosting the vaccination drive.
Case Title: Rakesh Malhotra v. GNCTD & Ors.