West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, 69, and state minister Firhad Hakim, 61, have expressed their willingness to volunteer for the phase 3 trial of Covaxin, the government-backed Covid-19 vaccine. The trial was launched in Kolkata on Wednesday.
“I have been getting calls from a lot many people who want to come forward and volunteer for the trial. As the first servant of the state, I am ready…,” said Dhankhar after launching the trial here.
Covaxin is the first Covid-19 vaccine being developed indigenously in India. Bharat Biotech is developing it in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Kolkata’s National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED) is one of the institutes selected to conduct the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation-approved regulatory trials. The trials will be conducted at around 25 sites across 10 states. The trial has started in some places.
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A NICED official said Hakim, who has also expressed his interest to volunteer for the trial, was likely to visit the institute on Wednesday. “The governor has also expressed his interest. But we have to consider his age and comorbidities. We are in touch with his physician.”
Around 350 people have applied to become volunteers. NICED is looking for around 1,000 volunteers. Those living within 10 km of the institute would get a preference as they need to be closely monitored for a year.
“The applicants would be invited one by one for interviews and tests. If they are eligible, they can become volunteers. The enrolment of 1,000 volunteers for the trial would have to be completed by February 2021,” said a second official. “It would take a year to analyse whether this has enough protective efficacy. There may be an interim analysis after six months. The government will take the final call.”