Mumbai civic body turns to corporators for help in finding volunteers for Covid-19 vaccine trial

Owing to the low turnout for conducting clinical trials of the indigenous vaccine, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech- the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now turned to corporators for help.

According to BMC officials, they are seeking help from elected representatives to get volunteers from their respective areas who are ready to undergo trial for India’s Covid-19 vaccine. The BMC has got only around 137 volunteers till now, even as two Mumbai hospitals, Sir JJ Hospital and Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital (Sion hospital) are going to conduct trails on 2,000 volunteers.

Mohan Joshi, dean of Sion hospital said, “We are taking help from all possible resources to get maximum volunteers for the trial. We are also taking help from corporators for getting in more volunteers.”

Joshi added, “There is nothing like there is no response or low response. Citizens are coming ahead, but not all are eligible to undergo a trial. There are certain tests we conduct before the ethics committee approves them as a volunteer. Till now, around 137 volunteers already have been shortlisted.”

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in October 2020, had selected two hospitals – the Sion hospital and Sir JJ Hospital for the pan-Indian clinical trial of Covaxin, manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

According to ICMR, 2,000 volunteers in the age group of 18-60 have to be a part of the trial. By December 31, the hospitals were supposed to complete the selection process. However, with insufficient numbers, the process of shortlisting is going to take more time, civic officials said.

Apart from Sion hospital that has around 137 volunteers, JJ hospital has also shortlisted around 370 volunteers for the same. Other two civic-run hospitals namely Nair and KEM Hospitals are also conducting stage three trial runs for Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Serum Institute of India along with Oxford University.

Meanwhile, Nehal Shah a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator from Matunga said, “The BMC should optimise the use of its resources to get volunteers for vaccine trials. It should give targets to corporators from each ward to get a given number of volunteers for vaccine trials. The civic body should also use social media widely to ensure proper publicity of the same.”

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