Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij, currently undergoing coronavirus treatment, has been shifted from Rohtak’s Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) to Medanta Hospital in Gurugram, as he showed no signs of improvement in his health condition. The minister, who is said to be suffering from a lung infection, is getting treatment under Dr Sushila Kataria, senior director of the Internal Medicine Department at Medanta.
The BJP leader had offered to be the first volunteer in the phase 3 trials for Covaxin, a potential indigenous vaccine being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech to combat Covid-19, last month.
According to Bharat Biotech officials, participants will be randomly assigned equally to receive either two 6-microgram injections of Covaxin or two shots of a placebo. The trial is double-blinded, such that the investigators, the participants and the company will not be aware of who is assigned to which group.
The minister, however, announced on Twitter that he would be the first volunteer in his state for the anti-Covid vaccine. He was administered the first dose on November 20 at the Civil Hospital in Ambala. However, 15 days after the dose, Vij tweeted, “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted to Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact with me are advised to get themselves tested for the coronavirus.”
Although he was initially treated at the Civil Hospital at Ambala, he was shifted to PGIMS on Saturday and he received convalescent plasma therapy. According to PGIMS, the minister had moderate Covid-19 with bilateral viral pneumonia. Vij was, shifted to Medanta yesterday evening when his condition turned critical.
While the news of Vij testing positive for Covid-19 just days after receiving the vaccine dose has triggered doubts amongst the public regarding the vaccine’s efficacy, Bharat Biotech says that clinical trials of the vaccine are based on a two-dose schedule, given 28 days apart. According to Bharat Biotech, Covaxin has been designed to be protective two weeks after volunteers receive the second dose.
After Vij’s announcement, the Union Health Ministry said, “The antibodies against the infection build up in a human being only after a specific number of days pass after the second dose of the vaccine is taken, since this is a two-dose vaccine. The minister in question has taken only one dose of the vaccine.”
However, the company’s official claims indicate that there is no evidence to indicate if the minister did indeed the vaccine or just a placebo. This piece of information is especially crucial at a time when Bharat Biotech is one of the few companies that have requested for an emergency use authorisation from the responsible medical body.