Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has rejected allegations that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has serious side effects and threatened to file Rs 100 crore defamation suit against volunteer who took part in the 'Covidshield' vaccine trial conducted by it.
A 40-year-old Chennai-based man had alleged that he suffered serious side effects, including a virtual neurological breakdown and impairment of cognitive functions and sought Rs 5 crore compensation in a legal notice to Serum Institute and others, besides seeking a halt to the trial.
The legal notice was sent to Serum Institute, the world's largest vaccine maker, which has collaborated with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca, for manufacturing of the vaccine, 'Covidshield.' The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), one of the sponsors besides SII, and Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, which administered the vaccine to the man, was served with the notice.
"The allegations in the notice are malicious and misconceived. While the Serum Institute of India is sympathetic with the volunteer's medical condition, there is absolutely no correlation with the vaccine trial and the medical condition of the volunteer. The volunteer is falsely laying the blame for his medial problems on the COVID-19 vaccine trial," SII said in a statement.
The company said that the claim is malicious because the volunteer was specifically informed by the medical team that the complications he suffered were independent of the vaccine trial he underwent. In-spite of specifically being made aware of the same, he still chose to go public and malign the reputation of the company, it said.
"It is evident that the intention behind the spreading of such malicious information is an oblique pecuniary motive. The Serum Institute of India, will seek damages in excess of 100 crore for the same and will defend such malicious claims," the Adar Poonawalla-led vaccine maker said.