Updated: October 25, 2021 6:51:55 am
B Y L Nair hospital that is conducting clinical trials of Serum Institute of India-manufactured Covovax vaccine among children has received 17 volunteers between the age of two and 17 years in the last 10 days. This is in sharp contrast to the earlier clinical trial of ZyCoV-D vaccine, when the hospital received only 12 volunteers in two months.
The hospital’s research team has said it requires 920 children as volunteers to conclude the clinical trial of Covovax vaccine.
Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of the hospital, said that the limited incidences of adverse effects among adult beneficiaries post-immunisation has helped gain the trust of the parents. “Parents who were initially hesitant to enroll their children in trials seem to have gained trust in the process. We are seeing more willing volunteers as they want to get their children vaccinated without any delays,” said Dr Bharmal.
Since reopening of schools from October 4, paediatrics are being flooded with queries of vaccination for children.
“On a daily basis, I get queries from concerned patients about the availability of vaccines. The queries have increased since the schools reopened,” said Dr Bakul Parekh, former president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics and a member of the paediatric Covid-19 task force.
In July last week, when the hospital started the clinical trial of Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D, it was hardly getting any child volunteers. It also initiated helpline numbers and counselled its in-house patients to participate in the trial. But the response was lukewarm.
“We got over 50 queries for the vaccine but due to fear and speculations, only 12 enrolled in the trial. Also, as the movement of children was restricted outside due to closure of schools, the eagerness was also less,” said Dr Bharmal.
In the clinical trial of ZyCoV-D vaccine, 50 per cent of the volunteers were provided with placebo (false vaccines, which is mostly saline water).
However, Covovax vaccine has won a bonus point, as its ratio of vaccine and placebo in the trial is 3:1. So, 75 per cent of the volunteers would receive a bonafide vaccine.
The paediatric Covid-19 task force has recommended that other than raising awareness among people, the vaccine manufacturer should also give incentives to parents to participate in the trial like providing ration to poor families. “The availability of vaccines for children is completely dependent on these trials. So, we need to sensitise people, especially those living in slums. Also, the families should be provided incentives to encourage them to enrol their children in the trials,” said Dr Parikh.
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