NEW DELHI: India’s effort to vaccinate its Tokyo Olympic-bound athletes has hit a roadblock. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has sought details on Covaxin’s exact composition before allowing the vaccine to be administered to the country’s Olympic probables. Covaxin is an indigenous, government-backed vaccine manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.
TOI has learnt that the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has written to Covaxin manufacturers to share the vaccine’s ingredients to make sure its dosages don’t lead to failed dope tests, while ensuring that the vaccine doesn’t cause any possible anti-doping rule violation under the WADA’s Code.
The global anti-doping watchdog has informed its Indian counterpart that Covaxin hasn’t yet been tested by them. This was communicated by WADA Director General (DG) Olivier Niggli during a virtual meeting with NADA officials held last week.
The WADA told its Indian affiliate that it can only allow Covaxin to be administered to athletes after verifying the components.
However, WADA has no such concerns and is satisfied with the composition and data available with regards to the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield. WADA has a memorandum of understanding with various pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and AstraZeneca, as well as the industry’s representative body, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations.
NADA Director General (DG) Navin Agarwal said: “In general, Covishield has been verified by WADA and athletes can take it. Covaxin’s composition isn’t known, so we have written to the manufacturer on WADA’s direction. The findings will be shared with WADA for them to issue appropriate directions with regards to athletes’ vaccination. However, in the interim, if athletes have taken Covaxin, we will defend them. That’s been made clear to WADA. We need to safeguard the interest of our athletes as well.”