Afzal Alam from Bihar volunteered to take the vaccine shot of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. His parents were unaware of him being a volunteer in the clinical trial.
A 29-year-old Afzal Alam along with a few friends reached the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) DOTS Centre on December 30, 2020, as a volunteer to participate in the clinical trial of the indigenously manufactured Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, his parents back home in Motihari in Bihar had no knowledge of this. Alam has been regularly donating blood at AIIMS. “Since I have been a blood donor for many years at AIIMS, I know a few doctors and when they brought up the issue of trials, I did not hesitate to take the job as part of the clinical trial process,” said Alam.
“I was keen to be part of this process and contribute to society, especially after so many people have died due to Coronavirus,” he told India Narrative.com. “There have been deaths due to COVID-19; people have lost jobs and livelihoods. We need to put an end to this so that jobs are back and we can live normal life. I wanted to make a difference and support the clinical trial run,” said Alam. “When we reached AIIMS DOTS centre for the trials, we were made to feel very comfortable by the doctors,” he recalls. On arrival at the centre, Alam’s weight and height were measured. “We were made to sit down; and all our questions were patiently answered by the doctors — there was no hurry. In fact, there was no forcing us for volunteering for the trials also; and the choice was still open to me to turn back,” he said.
“We were also told that financial support to the nominees would be provided in case of any disability or death,” added Alam. Alam, however, said that he never thought of turning back. “I was there and was determined to take the shot. There was no tension or fear; and that is perhaps because of my overall association with AIIMS,” noted the volunteer. The doctors conducted an RTPC test on Alam after which the Covaxin shot was administered
Alam and the other volunteers, who got the jobs, were discharged after being under observation for about 30-odd minutes. Nine days have passed since Alam received his vaccine shot. He has experienced no side effects yet. “There is no fever or any other discomfort,” said Alam, adding that for the first 48 hours, the doctors were in constant touch with the volunteers. After the first 48 hours, the doctors check once in two days.
Despite the shot, the volunteers are mandated to continue following the normal COVID-19 protocol which includes social distancing, wearing of the mask and washing hands. “We have to continue with the COVID-19 protocol despite the vaccine and also the doctors have asked us to immediately report in case of any discomfort,” he said. Alam’s next shot is due on January 27. He has been asked not to donate blood for three months. For other volunteers, family planning too is restricted for six months. (IANS)