The phase III trial of Covaxin — the vaccine for COVID-19 — at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Disease (NICED) in Kolkata will start from Wednesday, a senior official said. State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim (62) is likely to be the volunteer to take the first shot of Covaxin if everything goes according to plan and he is found to be fit in the medical tests, the official of the institute said on Monday.
"The phase III trials of Covaxin will be starting on December 2. We have requested some of the applicants, including Hakim, to appear for the trials on that day. They will be administered the vaccine only after they test fit for the trials. They cannot have any comorbidities. Following satisfactory results, the shots will be administered to them," the official said. Hakim, also the chief of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, had earlier expressed wish to be a volunteer for the trials.
"It is a great feat that he has expressed his willingness to be a part of the prorgamme and we will be happy to enrol him. He requires to take a few screening tests, following which the next step will be decided," the official added. Asked whether the senior Trinamool Congress leader will be getting the vaccine or the placebo, he said that since the phase III trial of Covaxin is a double-blinded placebo- controlled study, neither the volunteer nor the investigator will be able to know who is receiving what.
Half of the volunteers will be receiving the first- candidate vaccines, indigenously developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and the ICMR, while the rest will be given placebos, he said. Another shot will be administered to each of the volunteers after four weeks of the first one.
At least 1,000 volunteers will be administered the Covaxin in the phase III trials in Kolkata.