Pakistani doctor urges people to volunteer for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Via Farooq

ISLAMABAD (Reuters)-The Phase III clinical trial physician in Pakistan has called upon citizens to volunteer to surmount the country's aversion to immunization initiatives, for Chinese vaccine candidate COVID-19.

The Ad5-nCoV, a vaccine candidate jointly produced by CanSino Biologics and a Chinese military-supported research unit, was launched by Pakistan last week.

It is Pakistan's first-ever large-scale trial that has grappled with deception and assaults on health workers for other proven vaccines.

For example, attempts to eliminate polio were undermined by the resistance of some Islamists over the course of years, who said that immunization is an international plan to sterilize Muslim children or a cover for Western spies.

"When you incorporate something different and a vaccine is part of it, there are several problems.

Unfortunately, the uncertainty in vaccination is also very strong for a country like Pakistan, "Ejaz A. Khan, who is in control of the trial at Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, told Reuters Tuesday.

"People should come and volunteer and not delay, they should engage in the COVID-19 team to be a part of it."

Khan, a leader in vaccine trials in Pakistan for three decades, has claimed that even current vaccines have side-effects and hoped that this debate will not be prey to Ad5-nCoV.

Shifa International, Pakistan's first of five research sites, has rebuilt a building that was previously used for training by COVID-19, with 2 000 participants it plans.

Volunteers come by appointment and are hired by non-governmental organizations, hospitals and businesses.

Volunteers must be over 18 years of age, have not had a positive screened for COVID-19, have no immune failure and have no maternity during the examination.

Khan said that there would be one-time payments for 2,000 Pakistani rupees ($12) in travel and food prices.

The research outcome is versatile, Khan said, but one aim is to illustrate that the vaccine is 50 percent more successful than placebo.

Khan has once shown that the priority of CanSinoBio will be multi-million doses to Pakistan.

A Reuters request for clarification was not obtained from the Pakistan National Institute for Health, which regulates the proceedings.

The number of 541 new cases registered in Pakistan on Tuesday was 312,263 with a death toll of 6,479.

($1 = 165,5000 rupees from Pakistan)

(Umar Farooq's report; Raju Gopalakrishnan's editing)