AMBALA: Haryana's Health Minister Anil Vij was on Friday administered a trial dose of potential coronavirus vaccine Covaxin here, becoming the first volunteer for the phase three trial of the vaccine across the country.
The phase three trial of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin began in the state on Friday and the 67-year old senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader was administered the trial dose at the Civil Hospital at Ambala Cantt.
Vij said he is the first volunteer in the country to take the dose in phase three trial of the vaccine.
He is stated to be the first cabinet minister of any state government who has volunteered to take the trial dose of a potential vaccine against COVID-19.
The MLA from Ambala Cantt, had on Wednesday said the third phase of trial of Covaxin will begin in the state on November 20 and had offered to get vaccinated.
Covaxin is being developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Human trials of Covaxin had begun at Rohtak's Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in July.
A team of doctors from PGIMS Rohtak was present here including Vice Chancellor O P Kalra and Dhruv Chaudhary.
Civil Surgeon (Ambala) Kuldeep Singh told reporters that the Covaxin dose was administrated to Vij successfully.
Earlier, the minister underwent some tests at the hospital where he was kept under observation for some time after being administered the vaccine.
He later also attended his office in Chandigarh.
When asked if he felt any fear before being administered the vaccine, Vij told PTI, "What is there to fear."
Vij said he had also told his family and well-wishers that if others could volunteer for the trial dose of the vaccine, why could he not do the same.
"The third and final phase of the trial of Covaxin began today in which 25,800 volunteers will receive the dose. I had offered to take the first shot so that more and more people could enrol themselves as volunteers without any fear in their mind."
"The ultimate aim is that once we have more volunteers and if results are positive and all goes well, hopefully we can have this indigenous vaccine ready for public use early next year after government approvals," said Vij.
The health minister said that 1,000 volunteers will be registered for COVID-19 vaccine testing in Haryana.
He said that a person of any age can become a volunteer.
He said that a team of doctors will periodically examine the volunteers on which the vaccine will be tested.
Vij said people are living in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted normal life throughout the world.
"They cannot travel freely or socialise or have religious functions, while commercial activities have also taken a hit. Children cannot go to schools as before If an effective vaccine is developed as early as possible, people can once again have a normal life which was there before the outbreak of the pandemic," he said.
On Bharat Biotech developing the vaccine, Vij said, "It is a matter of pride that the Indian company is making this vaccine against the disease which has hit the whole world."
Doctors from PGIMS Rohtak said that they will now be monitoring Vij over the next few months.
"Second trial dose of the vaccine will be given after four weeks to the minister. Then every month we will be taking samples to see if antibodies are being generated, how is he doing, whether he is getting any symptomatic or asymptomatic infection. It will be a whole process which we will be following up over the next few weeks," said a doctor from PGIMS, Rohtak.
Last month, the vaccine maker said it had successfully completed interim analysis of Phase 1 and 2 trials and is initiating Phase 3 trials.
Bharat Biotech had on Monday said the Phase 3 trial of Covaxin will involve 26,000 volunteers across 25 centres in India and it is being conducted in partnership with the ICMR.
It is the largest clinical trial conducted for a COVID-19 vaccine in India.
This is India's first Phase 3 efficacy study for a COVID-19 vaccine, and the largest Phase 3 efficacy trial ever conducted.