Records punch holes in KMSC argument, anti-rabies vaccines bought before tests

Representational Image
Representational Image

Kozhikode: Even as the Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSC) reiterated that all norms were followed while procuring anti-rabies vaccine, communication between the corporation and the serum manufacturer tells a different story.

The communication has revealed that the anti-rabies vaccine procured had not undergone the mandatory tests at the Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL).

The procurement of the vaccine and its effectiveness triggered major concerns and became a controversy in Kerala after the death of a 19-year-old college student in Palakkad. The student was given anti-rabies shots after she had been bitten by a dog.

Kerala Medical Services Corporation's general manager Dr S S Joy issued an explanatory note justifying the procurement of the serum, and maintained that the corporation had adhered to all prescribed norms. Incidentally, Dr Joy had ordered the procurement of the vaccine before the tests at the CDL.

Bypassing tests

According to the Kerala Medical Services Corporation's tender norms, tests at the CDL are mandatory for anti-snake venom. The test would take 30 days. But after the State faced a serious shortage of the vaccine, the general manager directed to procure the vaccine without the CDL test.

The directive to procure antivenin after the tests by the manufacturer at the Corporation's meeting on July 14.

The representatives of the manufacturer, Vins Bioproducts Limited, had informed the Corporation that the batch of vaccines had undergone only the seven-day tests at the company, and it would be completed only on July 21. The Corporation reportedly ignored the communication and instructed the firm to provide the vaccine.

The company later informed the Corporation that it had delivered 6,000 vials at Thiruvananthapuram and 4,000 vials at Ernakulam at 9.30 pm on July 16. It also said another 6,000 vials would be delivered at Kozhikode the next day.

The communication revealed that the vaccines were distributed to the hospitals five days before the tests were to be completed.

Certificate after distribution

The certificate for 'Batch 02AR22019' of vaccines by Vins revealed that the company had commenced testing it on July 7 and completed it on July 21. The certificate was sent to the Corporation on July 21 itself. In fact, the Corporation had started distributing the vaccine in Kerala much before it received the certificate.

Vaccine from TN to quell controversy

Once the distribution of uncertified vaccines became a controversy, the Corporation tried to hush up the matter. A high-level meeting of the Corporation decided to halt the distribution, and it decided to borrow 20,000 vials from Tamil Nadu.

Based on the request, 5,000 vials reached Palakkad from Coimbatore on July 19. The manufacturer's certificate was mailed to the then managing director of the Corporation, Sriram Venkitaraman, on July 21. After receiving the certificate, 16,000 vials were released.

Questions galore

If the Corporation had followed all procedures, why did it procure 5,000 vials from Tamil Nadu? If the tendering process was completed by March last year itself, wouldn't the State have received the required vaccines by June first week?

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