A 32-year-old native of Kerala, employed with a shipping firm in Dubai, is among the participants of a groundbreaking trial to discover a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Around the world, at least 23 vaccines are under different phases of human trial according to WHO as pharmaceutical giants team up with governments to speed up the process.
Mohammed Razlim Anvar, who hails from Kannur district in Kerala, signed up for the phase 3 clinical trial of an inactivated vaccine being developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm in Dubai. An assistant manager with a shipping firm there, Anvar received the first dose on August 8 and is scheduled to get the second dose on August 29. He said he happily agreed to be a part of the process when he got a call from the Dubai Health Authority whose department of SEHA has tied up with Sinopharm to conduct trials among 15000 people in Dubai.
“There was initially a bit of concern and opposition from my family when I informed them that I had decided to be a part of the vaccine trial. But when I explained to them the details, they agreed. I was not afraid because I knew that the vaccine would be successful only if people come out to be a part of it. This is the only way for the world to escape from the clutches of the pandemic,” Anvar told iemalayalam.com.
Anvar said he underwent a preliminary medical examination before he got the shot at a hospital managed by SEHA.
“They check levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, along with examining body weight and height. Those clearing the tests are directed to go to the doctor who explains the possible effects of the vaccine. Then they take nasal swab samples to confirm if the volunteer is Covid-negative. Those found positive are not given the vaccine shot,” he said.
The tests carried out before the first dose are repeated before the volunteer is given the second dose. 26 days after the second dose is taken, a blood test is done to check for presence of antibodies. The trial ends there.
Anvar said he was given the shot on his arm and he was told by doctors that participants might face side-effects like headache and fever for a week. He said he had a headache for about three days following the shot.
“The hospital had given me a logbook to note down the physical changes happening in my body. Four times a day, I have to check my body temperature and note down the highest reading in the logbook. A week after the first dose, I had to return the logbook to the hospital with my observations. There is a 24-hour special wing in the hospital to treat people suffering from serious ailments,” he said.
Those participating in the trial were told that they would be under observation of the health department and Sinopharm for a year and that for the first three months, they would not be able to travel out of the UAE. In emergency situations, approval from the health department can be taken for travel out of the country. Volunteers had to sign documents attesting to these rules.
He said Sinopharm provided them wrist-bands which measured their blood pressure and pulse round the clock. For a year, the volunteers of the vaccine trial would get special attention to treat any ailments at any hospital across the UAE. Sinopharm had selected Dubai for their trials as the city had a rich cross-section of people across all ages and from different countries of the world.
According to a statement from the Abu Dhabi government, the experimental vaccine completed phase 1 and 2 of clinical trials with 100% of the participants proven to have generated antibodies after two doses. Sinopharm has also begun phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine in Bahrain, another GCC country.
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