While India is set to go in for the clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine, 42-year-old UK based Indian Deepak Paliwal has made India proud by already being part of Phase 2 of the clinical trial of the vaccine. The clinical trial was conducted by Oxford University in the UK, in collaboration with Pune based Serum Institute of India.
The vaccine being tested in the research study is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which is made from a virus ChAdoX1, which is a weakened version of the common cold virus called adenovirus, from chimpanzees that have been genetically changed so that it is impossible to grow in humans. To this virus, genes that make proteins from the COVID-19 virus were added called Spike glycoprotein playing an important role in the infection pathway of the COVID-19 virus.
“I got a message from one of my friends that there is a trial happening, do you want to be part of that? UK at that time in April was very bad with many COVID-19 cases. I went to the Oxford University website for details, then went to St George Hospital in London to register which is 15km away from where I am,” said Paliwal. Phase 2 of the trial was being conducted amongst 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 21-50 years old across 5 centres in the UK.
Paliwal is a pharmaceutical consultant who has been in London for the past 12 years. His wife, a pharmacist along with her friends initially dissuaded him, but he went in for the trial anyway and told his wife and friends only a week later after being administered the first injection. Before the process for Phase 2 of the vaccine trial started, a screening took place on the 16th of April to note his basic health parameters. Paliwal was shown a video about the process and informed about the risk factors which ranged from organ damage to mortality. That however did not stop the UK based pharmaceutical consultant. The research sent him a confirmation on the 30th of April.
Phase 1 of the vaccine trial is done on animals, phase 2 testing is done on 1,000 healthy individuals who had volunteered including Paliwal and the 3rd phase will be tested on a larger group of people. Paliwal cycled to St. George’s hospital on the 1st day of the trial after being invited for trial as he was asked not to use public transport due to rising COVID-19 cases. The first vaccination trial was injected into his arm at 11:00 am on the 11th of May and waited for 2 hours post that.
Paliwal admits that the day before he went in for the trial was tough for him, knowing what he was getting into, while he also thought about his mother, sister and other family members back in India, more so since he remembered his father who passed away 4 years ago. However, with so many people dying due to the virus including his friend’s mother in law, Paliwal knew he wanted to volunteer for the Phase 2 trial.
“I felt nothing after the first vaccine, apart from skipping a beat. I did not cycle back, as my head might spin. In the evening I had shivers and fever. I also did have pain in my arm and fever on the 5th day. I wanted to do it for myself. I was not working for the first 3 months. Since I was not using my mind, so I said let me use my body. I wanted to do something for humanity, no caste, race, or religion while I represent my country,” Paliwal explains his thoughts behind his decision.
The pharmaceutical consultant has donated platelets many times in the past and says the phase 2 trial which comprised of 2 injections being administered was less painful.
40% of nurses and doctors who died due to the virus in UK were from the BAME community, which comprises of the Black, Asian, Minority, and Ethnic population. The researchers wanted to try this vaccine on someone from this group to see how this works.
“My family was worried, but my mother is proud. Even people who don’t know me are proud. Till yesterday I was a normal person, nobody was messaging me. Today I feel I have done something big. There are risk factors always and there is a 90 day follow up and then 6 months follow up,” adds the pharmaceutical consultant who has to fill in health parameter details online every day to keep the research team informed.
The process continued for 29 days as Paliwal developed antibodies on the 28th day, suggesting that the vaccine is working. Phase 3 of the trial begun on the 21st of June amongst 10,000 volunteers aged 15-80 years old age group with 10,000 patients from different countries as cases were reducing in the UK. Paliwal chose to talk about his experience as he wants to send out a positive message at a time when humanity is at stake.
10th April 2020 I first volunteered for Oxford clinical trial website ( phase 2 with 1000 Volunteers across 5 centres in the United Kingdom)
26th April 2020 Screening to check if I am eligible for the trial
11th May 2020 Got Vaccine shot
18th May 2020 7th Day visit
8th June 2020 28th Day visit
21st June 2020 phase 3 of the trial started with 10,000 new volunteers with a broader age group.
Till today there is a daily regular follow up with e-diary reporting.