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India: Bhopal gas tragedy survivors urged Modi to halt ‘unethical’ vaccine trial

The NGOs allege that the consent procedure and other protocol of testing are being thrown to winds

Bhopal gas tragedy survivors on Sunday demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi to halt the ongoing trial of Covaxin, the indigenously developed Covid-19 vaccine, in view of ‘violation of laws and guidelines’.

In a letter to the PM, 4 NGOs comprising Bhopal gas tragedy survivors said, “We are writing to you to apprise you of the ground situation with regard to the conduct of the trial. Evidence has emerged that the trial in Bhopal is being conducted in gross violation of laws and guidelines governing clinical trials in India”.

“This is leading to exploitation and harm to a community of people that are not just economically and socially deprived, but whose health is compromised owing to the destructive impact and its consequences”, they said.

The NGOs alleged that vulnerable people were being misguided and herded to participate in the trials and the consent procedure and other protocol of testing was being thrown to winds.

“The clinical trial (of the vaccine) should be stopped forthwith and an impartial probe be conducted”, they said.

According to Rasheeda Bee, a gas tragedy survivor and social activist, at least 700 out of the 1700 people on whom this vaccine was being tested, were the people poisoned by Union Carbide gas leak in 1984.

“One gas victim has already died within 10 days of getting the trial shot and many continue to have health complaints of serious nature”, she alleged.

A Covaxin volunteer died 9 days after he took the shot, she said.

Bharat Biotech, a partner in the development of the Covaxin, however has issued a statement saying that the volunteer’s death was unrelated to the vaccine.

In a statement issued by People’s College of Medical Science and Research Centre, Bhopal, said the postmortem report conducted on the deceased by Medico Legal Institute, Bhopal, cited cause of death due to cardio-respiratory failure caused by suspected poisoning.

Dean of the college Dr Anil Dixit said the vaccine has nothing to do with the death since symptoms of the adverse reactions of the vaccine, if developed, could have surfaced within 48 hours of getting the shot.

He also dismissed the allegation that the college has not followed government guidelines while conducting the trial of the vaccine by the institute.

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