“Cancel all … agreements that compromise the fundamental interests of the Indian people, particularly those imposed on behalf of global corporations …”
Oxford University, England backed by the British Government in collaboration with multinational drug corporation AstraZeneca (British, Swedish origin) is reported to have completed Phase-1, II trials of its newly-discovered COVID-19 vaccine – so reports a British medical journal, Lancet in its online edition dated 20 July, 2020.
A British news agency, Reuters informed the world about these developments. AstraZeneca then tied up with Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, India (a private enterprise) for mass production of this vaccine and also to conduct the next phases of clinical trials. The Drug Controller of India is reported to have asked SII to start from phase II and proceed on to phase III of these trials. SII has entered into a new partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance & the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to speed up the process of manufacture and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for India and other third world countries – at least 92 in number.
A mass producer of this vaccine will face a conflict of interest. Since it already has enough orders, what prevents fudging of data to ensure that all the phases of the trial go without a hiccup? Honest trials might entail loss of windfall gains. Besides how much ethically and scientifically could such trials proceed when there is a monumental order for supply dangling like a carrot in front of the enterprise – and this when even the results of Phase II (being repeated in India, though white skinned people in Britain have already been tested) have not been reported/scrutinized in any medical journal. What if the results of Phase II trials in India are anything but, encouraging or are different from those in U.K.
As if this was not scandalous enough AstraZeneca wants – rather demands – indemnity against side effects of this vaccine for the next four years! What audacity; what gumption? Recall that top level officials of MNC Bayer faced jail terms handed over at Nuremberg Trials. How can AstraZeneca escape liability were any catastrophe to occur?
It could be taken as a given that heads of ninety-two odd countries, mostly former colonies of Great Britain, have either given/are in the process of giving a tacit approval to this humongous medical monstrosity masquerading as a trial. In 1930s, Hitler could boast of roping in one MNC, to wit Bayer, for unethical medical experimentation. In a role reversal now in the year 2020 one MNC – AstraZeneca – has forced ninety-two odd geographical entities to sign on the dotted line. AstraZeneca is in effect actually extorting blank, signed death warrants of citizens from their respective governments.
It is true that the USA – a onetime British colony – has also allowed trials of Oxford vaccine on its citizens. In 2005 a law was enacted in USA to the effect that if a vaccine manufacturer produces a vaccine during an acute medical crises of national importance, and the vaccine produces serious side effects the manufacturer stands indemnified in public interest. (Evidence enough that MNCs control and run governments.) In other words the American people were allowed to be used as guinea pigs in such circumstances. No other country has such a law. But AstraZeneca has been arm twisting governments of 92 countries in first go to enact similar legislation. Expect an Ordinance to the effect in India around 8 p.m. any day in the near future.
Just a Google search on the shenanigans of AstraZeneca – a plain compilation of number of times AstraZeneca has been sued in courts of law and ordered to pay compensation to governments and patients, even going in for out-of court settlement – would be sufficient to put anyone on guard. Only a head of state with an IQ well below that of a congenital idiot would put its people on the chopping block.
It is commonsensical knowledge what side effects could ensue from any new drug/vaccine. The new vaccine could set off – any new disease, disability or death; abortion and fertility issues; congenital defects; genetic mutations in future generations. Mercifully of course the vaccine could prove to be useless and harmless. But who is going to pay compensation if any such problem arises in first four years of the use of this vaccine? As AstraZeneca demands indemnity for this period governments globally would have to ensure payment of damages – which could see governments go bankrupt.
Astra and the thalidomide disaster
Astra AB – predecessor of AstraZeneca – based in Sweden distributed a drug Neurosedyn, which was a prescription free sedative; the drug was developed in Germany and sold under the name thalidomide in other countries. “In late 1961 this drug was connected to a number of birth defects in Germany and was withdrawn from the German market. Three weeks later Astra’s Neurosedyn was withdrawn in Sweden, after having been on the market slightly less than three years.” It turned out that about 100 Swedish children had suffered deformation from their mother’s taking the drug during their pregnancy. Worldwide 10,000 deformed children were born. Astra had to reach a settlement with the victims in 1969. “This turn of events led to a revision of safety thinking in drug development, and to date it is still considered as the worst tragedy and scandal in the history of the Swedish pharmaceutical industry.” Has AstraZeneca in the year 2020 forgotten its own history! (Wikipedia – Astra AB)
‘Great Britain’ needs to be reminded that the sun had set on the empire long time back; it is now a small island nation – even sliced off from EU; at best a lapdog of USA. Gone are the days when inhabitants of its colonies could be used as fodder for its WW-I, WW-II armies; it should no longer dare demand clinical trials on non-whites, Africans, Asians, South Americans, people of its erstwhile colonies, or even those who were colonized by other colonial powers as obnoxious as the British and those countries derogatorily referred to as under-developed or less-developed. Will someone please explain to those carrying the white man’s burden that even if a charitable clinic offers free medical services to the poorest of the poor and the poor person dies, the charity provider cannot escape responsibility and accountability. In the case of Oxford vaccine the buck stops at Buckingham Palace! Is the Queen listening or is she still in hiding in a remote corner of Windsor Castle – as per media reports last pouring in – when the coronavirus pandemic had just hit Great Britain.
British Government suppressed information about the 1918 pandemic
A hundred years earlier the British government tried its best to ensure that the world would not know about the 1918 flu pandemic which affected an estimated five hundred million people and killed up to fifty million worldwide. News of the pandemic, it was felt, could adversely affect its war efforts on so many fronts then. It was Spain – which had no such interest – which let the world know that a flu pandemic is on. The term ‘Spanish Flu’ does not connote that the flu started in Spain – rather Spain sent the news to the whole world. So Great Britain actually helped spread the 1918 flu pandemic! Can it be trusted in 2020? Should it not be apologizing to the world community at least now for its treacherous role then?
Mark Honigsbaum writes in Regulating the 1918–19 Pandemic: Flu, Stoicism and the Northcliffe Press:
“The first Britons knew of the flu was in late May when the Daily Express and the Daily Mail ran brief reports about a ‘mysterious epidemic’ in Spain. Wary of frightening the public, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) dismissed the reports as ‘alarmist’ while The Lancet ignored them entirely.”
Late in the spring of 1918 the Spanish wire news service Agencia Fabra sent cables to Reuter’s news service headquarters in London about the spread of flu cases. Reuters subserved the interest of its British rulers; a decade later the Associated Press (AP) followed in the footsteps of Reuters under Hitler’s Germany. Both these news agencies butchered journalist ethics.
Oxford University develops/discovers a vaccine for COVID-19 and then hands it over to AstraZeneca on a silver platter. Since the whole world knows by now that AstraZeneca has made it clear that it has to be indemnified for the first four years of the use of its vaccine, is Oxford University comfortable with this diktat of the MNC? Worse, or is it party to this conditionality? The historical role of middle class academicians/professionals is to raise questions on the establishment. Has Oxford University professors all but forgotten it?
Dr. P. S. Sahni is a member of ABVA.
This content was originally published here.