The third phase of COVID -19 vaccine trials began in Belagavi.
City-based Jeevan Rekha Hospital has made preparations to organise the trials on a large scale and has issued a public appeal asking volunteers to take part.
“We have begun administering the test dose of Covaxin to volunteers,” said Paritosh Desai, in charge of the trial process.
As many as 40 volunteers were given the vaccine on Thursday. “We hope to give the vaccine to at least 1,000 volunteers,” Dr. Desai said.
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He says increased awareness about the vaccine has made their job easier. “Now people know about the vaccine and they are coming forward for the trials,” Dr. Desai said.
He said the third phase is different from the second in multiple ways. “The test dose used is almost the same as the final product and the number of volunteers is bigger. Only healthy individuals in a specific age range were selected for the second phase. But in the third phase, any one above the age of 18 will be administered the vaccine. Those with health problems and comorbidities are not rejected,” he said.
The vital part is that the third phase involves a placebo-based double blind and randomised testing. “The process involves the patient receiving two shots of the vaccine or of the placebo two times. After that the volunteers are monitored by the hospital for a year. There is a provision for SOS visits to the hospital if the patients suffer from symptoms or any other problem,” he said.
Volunteers of the first and second phase had to make multiple visits to the hospital for monitoring.
Jeevan Rekha has been conducting two separate sets of trials. It conducted the first and the second phase of trials for Covaxin, while it organised only the second phase of trials for ZyCoV-D develped by Zydus Cadilla. As many as 50 healthy young people volunteered for Covaxin and 275 were given the ZyCoV-D doses.
The Belagavi hospital is yet to get the go ahead for the third phase of ZyCoV-D. Reports from the first and second phase trials have proved the safety and efficacy of Covaxin.
“Covaxin, the made-in-India vaccine has been proven to be safe. It has been given to over 25,800 people in 250 centres across the country till now,” says Amit Bhate, director of the hospital.
Those wanting to participate can call the hospital helpline at 9743433294, 9019601976, or 9113222185.
Source : The Hindu | Rishikesh Bahadur Desai