Biswaroop Chaudhary and Tarun Kothari, who claim to be doctors, have shared an advisory asking unmarried women, children, people with breathing issues, people who smoke or drink alcohol, people with neurological issues, and those who have diabetes should not take the COVID-19 vaccine.
These two, along with a few other doctors are leading the anti-coronavirus movement in India. They have also been actively sharing misinformation around the vaccine even before the Indian administration approved Covishield and Covaxin.
While doctors advise that children should not be administered the vaccines, there is no scientific proof that the other groups of people mentioned in the message should avoid the COVID-19 vaccine.
The advisory in Hindi attributed to Dr. Tarun Kothari, MBBS MD, Dr. BK Tumane, MBBS MD, Dr. Biswaroop Roy Choudhary, Medical Activist, Dr. Vilas Jagdale, MD and Medical Activist, Orang Dr. Leo Rebello, Director, Natural Health Centre, Mumbai, asks people to not fall in the trap of vaccine manufacturers who they claim are in cahoots with government entities and are trying to thrust the vaccine to gain further mileage and make money. It even adds that the vaccine has been hastened to ensure that its side effects are hidden.
The vaccine, according to the advisory, should not be given to
1. Unmarried women as it can lead to infertility, children as it can cause diseases in the future.
2. Anybody who has ever suffered from respiratory disorders like pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis as the vaccine can lead to death due to the side effects
3.Those who smoke or consume alcohol as it can cause cancer,
4. People with neurological issues as vaccine can further aggravate the symptoms, and
5. Diabetics as vaccine can cause side effects which could lead to death.
This message has been around on social media since January 2021 when the vaccines were first approved in India.
BOOM was tagged on this advisory by a Twitter user asking for verification.
This is not the first time Biswaroop Chaudhary, Tarun Kothari, Vilas Jagdale and the doctors along with them have been downplaying the pandemic since its outbreak in the country in March, 2020.
These doctors who share their videos over YouTube and have a growing community of anti-vaxxers on Telegram, have been found to be spreading misinformation that has already been debunked before.
On January 14, 2021, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released a statement highlighting precautions for people who have a history of allergic reactions to any vaccines, pharmaceutical products, injectables, food-products, and pregnant as well as lactating women. The Ministry also asked people showing symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, patients who recently received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, or those who had acute fever or were hospitalised to defer taking the vaccine for a month or two.
While it is widely believed that children should not be given the vaccine, it is not due to the vaccine causing complications in the future. None of the approved vaccines across the world have had children participating in the clinical trials, as studies on the effect of coronavirus on children is still emerging.
BOOM spoke to Dr. Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Respirologist, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai who stated that such claims are made to create an air of vaccine hesitancy. "We already know that children are not to be given this vaccine. The only reason I will ask people with an ongoing episode of respiratory illness to avoid the vaccine for a few weeks is so that even though the underlying reason will be their illness episode, any side effects will be blamed on the vaccine, clouding the effect and efficiency of the vaccine."
Furthermore, people with neurological issues, pulmonary disorders, and a long history of diabetes are included in the list of co-morbidities that allows people between the ages of 45-59 to receive vaccination in the country, along with people above the age of 60.
BOOM has earlier debunked the claim that the COVID-19 vaccines can lead to women being infertile. Several posts went viral, claiming that the vaccines affect a particular protein which would leave women infertile. However, scientists have refuted this claim by stating that the vaccine only will be targeted to the cells that the coronavirus targets, and if the vaccine leaves a woman infertile, every woman infected by SARS-CoV-2 would have developed infertility.
Suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccine can cause cancer in individuals who smoke or drink is an example of misusing common knowledge that smoking and drinking alcohol is injurious to health and could be carcinogenic. However there is no direct scientific evidence that links vaccines to adverse impact on those consuming such products.
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