Anil Hebbar (56), a healthcare entrepreneur who sets up simulation labs in medical colleges to train paramedics; Vaishali Janardhanan (28), a child rights activist; Sanjay Salunkhe (55), who runs a graphic design institute, and Dr Rahul Ghule, the founder of one-rupee clinics at railway stations in Mumbai, are among the 1,600 participants of the Covishield vaccine trial.
“While everyone is eagerly awaiting a vaccine, they should also ensure that they take adequate precautions to prevent the infection,” Hebbar said. “I know about 20 people who have died due to Covid. There has been a lot of sadness, especially as some people speculate over whose turn would be next. That made me take part as a volunteer in the trial.”
An electronics engineer who helped migrant workers and set up community kitchens during the lockdown, Hebbar said that he has wondered as to how he did not contract the infection despite being closely involved in such activities. He admitted that he had a sense of curiosity that made them take the shots; one dose on October 8 and another on November 6. “I have been told that both doses will be effective for a year,” he said.
“Volunteering for research is not a new phenomenon in my family,” said the Covishield vaccine volunteer, whose father’s body was donated to the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangalore.
Recently, Hebbar also partook in a webinar series on Covid vaccine trials. Reflecting on his experiences of the ground realities, he SAID that the process has been rushed. “Vaccine trials take time and we need (to consult) more studies. However, considering that it is a pandemic, we would at least have ‘first aid’ for those most at risk – the elderly and healthcare workers,” he said.
Vaishali Janardhanan, WHO volunteered at the community kitchens set up by Hebbar, said, “I had read the consent form and the trial organisers had explained details about the Covid vaccine, monetary compensation and likely setbacks. We were also told that there was a 75 percent chance that the participant may get a vaccine and a 25 percent chance that they could get the placebo.”
She PARTICIPATED IN THE TRIAL WITH THE HOPE that the vaccine will bring about a break in the chain of transmission.
Janardhanan was given two doses in an interval of 28 days and HER FRIEND, Joel Joy (32), who works at a corporate firm, also decided to enlist as a volunteer.
“I HAD been feeling helpless about the Covid-19 situation. If I get enough antibodies against Covid, then I can donate plasma and help others, too,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Rahul Ghule and Sanjay Salunkhe are yet to receive their second doses. While Ghule volunteered for the trial as a social cause, Salunke said, “I thought participating as a volunteer would help in finding some solution to this pandemic.”
The group believes that getting the shots does not necessarily mean they will remain safe. “We should lose fear of the disease, but remain careful – at least for the next two years,” said Hebbar.
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