Locals of Bhopa say that a white van arrived in their neighborhood and offer to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and instead, they would give them 750 rupees ($10).
According to people, who recalled hearing it back in December, 750 rupees was about twice what they’d usually earn for a day’s hard labor, and they agreed.
Yashoda Bai Yadev, who participated in the trial, says they told them that it was the COVID-19 vaccine and should get it and not fall sick.
The natives later discovered from local activists that some of them hadn’t been given an approved vaccine had unconsciously taken part in a clinical trial for India’s homemade vaccine, named Covaxin. Meanwhile, only half of the participants in Covaxin’s Phase 3 trial got a vaccine, while the other half got a placebo.
This could lead to vaccine hesitancy among some groups in the country.
The experience of some participants in Bhopa implies the medical team from People’s Hospital, who was running the trial, may not have adequately explained that they were part of a trial and that only part of them would get a vaccine. It’s essential to mention that If proven true, it appears to break India’s clinical trial rules that require informed approval from all participants.
Furthermore, Amar Jesani, the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics editor, worries that this could lead to vaccine hesitancy among some groups in the country.
The Covaxin Phase 3 study, sponsored by the vaccine’s developers, Indian biotech company Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research, involves about 26,000 people at 26 locations, including nearly 1,700 in Bhopal.
Significantly, India has given out over 12 million doses of two certified coronavirus shots since the rollout started on January 16. At its start, India had one of the fastest rollouts globally by sheer number of people who got shots, as it vaccinated 1 million people in six days.