MORE THAN 300 people have volunteered for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trials in Mumbai at two sites, KEM and Nair hospitals. Both hospitals are awaiting Pune’s Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College and Hospital to record vaccine efficacy in its first 100 participants before beginning trials in Mumbai.
The KEM hospital has managed to register 278 volunteers, but Nair hospital is still looking for more. While more than 400 people called to inquire, only 40 registered at Nair. Hospital officials said they needed more participants as they expected a high screening failure rate in Mumbai.
“The eligibility criteria is that individuals should be healthy, and not have antibodies against coronavirus or active infection,” said Dr R N Bharmal, dean at Nair hospital. When screening begins, hospital officials expect several to test positive for antibodies and become ineligible.
Officials from Nair hospital said the ethics committee approval had been obtained and they might be asked to begin screening anytime, while KEM is awaiting approval from the ethics committee to go ahead. Other trial sites have been asked to wait until Bharati Vidyapeeth finishes vaccinating 100 participants and produces preliminary results.
“We have decided not to include hospital staff in the trial as most may have developed antibodies against the virus,” a doctor said.
The Covid-19 vaccine trial will cover 1,600 participants in India across 17 sites. Of them, eight sites are in Maharashtra. Trials during Phases II and III are being handled by Serum Institute of India and will look at safety and efficacy of the vaccine, known as Covishield.
Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM hospital, said they could start vaccination process as soon as they got the green signal from Indian Council of Medical Research. Serum institute has tied up with British-Swedish pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca to produce 1 billion doses of the vaccine in India.