Governments around the world don’t seem to want the public to know much about the COVID-19 vaccine data, for whatever reason. While in the U.S., a certain denialism grows, such as an admission that VAERS data has any connection to vaccination reality, while in India the central government just locked down vaccine data with a severe gag order. That is, most recently in India, the national health ministry warned all states that data on vaccine stocks, temperatures, not to mention storage, and other data associated with the emergency authorized products, is the property of the central ministry and not to be shared with the public. In a letter dated January 4, the ministry declared that data and analytics produced by a system known as eVIN (electronic vaccine intelligence network) is the property of the central ministry and that it was “not to be shared with any other organization, partner agency, media agency, online and offline public forums” without the consent of the central government. Classifying this data as “very sensitive information,” the official rationale for this gag order is what the government deems a quest for “program improvement.” Indian press notes that the language used by the central ministry is most certainly “unusual” as is the government declaring they “own” this data.
Recently Healthworld, an Indian online media, reported that a retired senior bureaucrat suggested, “People have the right to know and the state has the right and the responsibility to inform people about how much vaccines have been received from the Centre.” A public activist from Prayas named Chhaya Pachauli asked, “In what way is this information sensitive?” While the original story authored by Rema Nagarajan shared that Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasthuya Abhiyan suggested that this gag order was not in alignment with core public health principles, declaring “in a public health emergency you need to win the confidence of people. If you hide data on oxygen supply, on deaths, on beds available and on vaccine stocks, how will you build public trust.”