Urban development minister Firhad Hakim is likely to participate in the Covaxin Phase III trial at NICED (National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases) Kolkata.
Hakim, who is also the chairperson of the Board of Administrators (BoA) in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, told TOI on Tuesday, “I had preliminary talks with the NICED director. I have assured her of all help. I was asked whether I would like to volunteer for the (clinical) trial. I have told the NICED director that I am keen to help in whatever way I can. I am even ready to participate in the clinical trial if I meet the criteria.” Shanta Dutta, the NICED director, could not be reached for comments.
TOI had reported that the first lot of the Covaxin vials are expected to arrive at NICED Kolkata in about a week for the Phase III clinical trial. As part of the pan-India Phase III trial of the indigenous vaccine for Covid, 1,000 volunteers will take part in this study at NICED.
For the first indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech and ICMR, 28,500 volunteers will be taken into the third phase of the trial across India. The trial at NICED will be a placebo-controlled trial where half of the participants will receive inert placebo and the rest will be given the candidate vaccine. NICED will soon start screening the volunteers to select the ones who fit into the criteria.
Hakim, 61, who has been leading the KMC’s Covid efforts, is, however, not the first high profile personality to have volunteered for the Covaxin Phase III trials. Before him, the Aligarh Muslim University vice-chancellor Prof Tariq Mansoor and Haryana health minister Anil Vij had publicly expressed their desire to participate in the trials. Hakim said he has not received any formal request from NICED.
In Kolkata, former School of Tropical Medicine (STM) director Pratip Kumar Kundu who superannuated in October-end this year has also expressed his desire to participate in the trials at STM. A microbiologist by profession, the 65-year-old called up the team at STM saying that he was ready to take part in the vaccine trial. STM medical will be conducting the Phase III trial of candidate Covovax taking in 100 volunteers.