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PM Modi Missing from Covid certificates after Covishield row: Here’s Why?

As soon as the news broke of British-Swedish vaccine maker AstraZeneca’s admission in a UK court regarding Covishield’s potential link to Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), a rare condition involving blood clotting, worried Indians started inspecting their vaccination certificates.

Sold in India under the brand name Covishield, a majority of the country received doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine (nearly 1.7 billion doses have been administered, as the government’s CoWin data shows).

However, while browsing through their vaccine certificate, a few individuals noticed something missing. The photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the digital certificates, which had created a huge furore three years ago, was gone.

Some individuals turned to the microblogging platform X (formerly Twitter) to note the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photograph. “Modi ji no more visible on COVID Vaccine certificates. Just downloaded to check – yes, his pic is gone,” shared X user Sandeep Manudhane.

On X, many users speculated that this alteration in the vaccination certificate was prompted by the recent revelations concerning Covishield, which was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) under a licensing agreement with AstraZeneca.

However, the Health Ministry cleared the air on the issue soon after. According to a report in The Print, when questioned about the removal of PM Modi’s picture from the certificates, officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed that this action was taken due to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) in effect for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

This isn’t the first instance of PM Modi’s photo being excluded from vaccination certificates either. In 2022, his picture was omitted from certificates issued in five states—Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa—as per the Election Commission of India’s directive preceding Assembly elections in those states, The Print reported.

Recently, AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company behind the vaccine developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, conceded in UK court documents that its Covid-19 vaccine could lead to TTS, a rare side effect characterised by blood clots and low platelet levels, crucial for clotting.

However, the company reiterated its commitment to patient safety amid a class action lawsuit in the UK. In India, the vaccine was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine producer.

Meanwhile, scientists and researchers are of the opinion that the side effect is rare and would only be seen among 7 or 8 in a million people. A former scientist of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also said that adverse reactions are likely to manifest within the initial two to three months following the vaccination.

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