COVID-19 in Mumbai: KEM Hospital begins Covishield phase 2 trial
BL Soni

The much awaited clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield developed by the University of Oxford began at the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital on Saturday afternoon.

On the very first day of the trial, three volunteers between the age group of 20 to 45 years were administered doses intramuscularly as part of the phase 2 human trials. According to the sources, two of the three healthy volunteers are businessmen and one is a researcher with a government body. However, the hospital administration refused to disclose the identity of the volunteers citing privacy.

Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean, KEM Hospital said all three volunteers were healthy and did not have any comorbidities or any medical history. They also underwent RT-PCR and antibody tests to check whether they were exposed to the virus.

"We administered the first dosage to the three volunteers on Saturday afternoon, following which all of them were kept under observation for an hour and then allowed to go home,” he said. “In phase 2, we will try to assess its safety profile while looking for side-effects like fever, nausea, dizziness or redness and swelling at the site of the injection,” Dr Deshmukh added.

The hospital has selected 20 more volunteers for the process. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), each of the volunteers have been covered with one crore life insurance if they die due to any side effect during the trial. Also, they have Rs 50 lakh for medical insurance if they develop any adverse effect from the vaccination.

Meanwhile, three women volunteers are likely to get the first dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine at BYL Nair Hospital on Monday.

The vaccine induces a strong immune response. It provokes a T cell (white blood cells that can attack cells infected with the virus) response within 14 days of vaccination and an antibody response within 28 days.

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