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KPA files plea in Supreme Court, demands panel to study anti-rabies vaccine effectiveness

A committee of experts to study and report on the effectiveness of the current rabies vaccine is the need of the hour, as Kerala reels from its recent stray dog menace that have seen as many as 20 deaths, out of which 15 were not administered the anti-rabies vaccine while the remaining five died despite administering the vaccine.

The Kerala Pravasi Association (KPA) reached out to the Supreme Court seeking immediate intervention to ensure that the quality of anti-rabies vaccine that is administered is up-to-date. The petition was filed by KPA Chairman Dr Rajendran Vellapalath and President Aswani Nambarambath.

The petition highlights that in recent years many people, bitten by dogs have died of rabies, raising doubts about the treatment protocol and the effectiveness of these anti-rabies vaccines.

Besides proper quality check on the vaccines, the failure to purchase and distribute these vaccines or unapproved distribution – where vaccines were known to have been procured even before requisite approvals were obtained from the Central Drugs Laboratory as per the norms; lack of sterilization of stray dogs in the last two years or implementation of a proper animal birth control program have all been factors leading to the stray dog menace.

The rise in the number of rabies-infected dogs calls for a direct enquiry about the anti-rabies vaccines administered to dogs as well. The petition calls for an independent expert panel to be tasked with studying the effectiveness of intradermal rabies vaccines (IDRVs). KPA have also requested for more publicity and a widespread campaign to ensure that a proper and uniform implementation of the National Guidelines for Rabies Prophylaxis, 2019 is followed with appropriate revisions from time to time as per the WHO guidelines.

According to the guidance note issued by National Centre for Disease Control the manufacturing of Rabies vaccine for humans, being a complex process, needs a minimum of three to four months for manufacturing and testing. However, there have been instances where the vaccine have reached the State within 14 days of manufacture. This calls for non-adherence to the requisite C quality checks would be a direct violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India, apart from violations of provisions under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder.

Kerala Pravasi Association filed the petition in the Supreme Court through KMMNP Law.