Asia - Pacific

India: Minister part of local vaccine trial gets virus

Vaccine can only be effective after 2 doses, volunteers have 50% chance of receiving vaccine or placebo, says developer

Cheena Kapoor   | 05.12.2020
India: Minister part of local vaccine trial gets virus

NEW DELHI 

An Indian politician part of ongoing trials of one of the country’s locally made coronavirus vaccines tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday.

Anil Vij, a minister in the northern Haryana state’s government, was among the volunteers for third phase trials of Covaxin, a vaccine developed by local firm Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research - National Institute of Virology, that started two weeks ago.

“I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital … All those who have come in close contact with me are advised to get themselves tested for corona,” the 67-year-old said on Twitter.

As news of Vij’s diagnosis broke, the company behind Covaxin issued a statement clarifying that the clinical trials are “based on a two-dose schedule, given 28 days apart.”

“Covaxin has been designed to be effective when subjects receive both doses. The vaccine efficacy will be determined two weeks after the second dose,” the company said.

It also explained that the trial is a “double-blind study where volunteers have a 50% chance of receiving either vaccine or placebo.”

Satyendra Jain, an opposition leader serving as health minister for the capital territory of Delhi, called on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to address concerns being raised over Covaxin’s effectiveness and take appropriate measures.

Covaxin is one of three vaccine candidates developed in India, which remains the second worst-hit country in the world with over 9.5 million cases, including 139,700 deaths.

Just a day earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told lawmakers that eight potential vaccines, currently in different stages of trials, will be manufactured in India, including the three indigenous vaccines.

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