New Delhi: The Centre has asked states to take penal action against those “spreading rumours” about the efficacy of Coronavirus vaccines — Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, developed and manufactured by the Bharat Biotech Limited — currently being administered in India.

In a letter sent to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, the Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla emphasised that both Covishield vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech Limited, were approved for inoculation after they were found safe and immunogenic by the National Regulatory Authority.

“I would like to strongly emphasize that the National Regulatory Authority in the country has found both the vaccines safe and immunogenic. However, it has been reported that unfounded and misleading rumours are circulating, in social and other media, creating doubt about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. Such kind of rumour mongering, particularity by vested interests, can create unwarranted doubts among people at large, and there is, therefore, a need to check all such kinds of unfounded scare-mongering related to the efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccines,” Bhalla has said in his letter.

The government of India, in collaboration with the states and Union territories, launched the countrywide inoculation drive of Covid-19 vaccination from January 16 onwards.

The Union home secretary said healthcare workers and frontline workers are being inoculated as per the priority decided by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), and subsequently the priority groups 2 and 3 will be vaccinated.

(With inputs from agency)