“No information of terms and conditions of the insurance cover was given to us. How much benefits we would get or insurance is given for what kind of side effects? Serum Institute of India through Jahangir Hospital where I enrolled for volunteering has given us Insurance cover to sign. Director of the Jahangir Hopsital was not aware about it. He was given job of giving vaccine shots to volunteers” Hemant Katakkar, a businessman who took two doses of Covishied vaccine in September and October. 

He says he is not worried adverse effects of the vaccine trial as I volunteered for it knowing well that there can be health hazards. Following the claim by the Chennai based volunteer that he suffered from neurological and psychological side effects after taking the shot of the vaccine, many volunteers say they are more worried about lack of education and communication gap by the SII.  

Volunteers who are physically fit had to undergo various tests like blood pressure? Not all volunteers were selected for the trials. They were told as part of the undertaking that 75% would give the vaccine and 25% would be given a placebo. Volunteers are not aware of whether they got a vaccine or a placebo.

Hemant, 60, without comorbidity, who decided to volunteer for a trial of the vaccine in phase III as human are in crisis, tells, “We signed undertaking at Jahangir Hospital, Pune, and nobody from Serum were present. We still don’t have contact of anybody from SII to communicate in case of doubts or problems.”

Surendra Savle, 82, Pune tells, “Nobody explained what is written in the undertaking. How can they expect to read all terms and conditions written in small fonts and understand them? This is an unprecedented situation and they should have explained.”

Salve who had a fever and joint pain for two days after taking the vaccine shot is not worried over adverse effects.

One of the volunteers on the condition of anonymity tell, “the group of volunteers has many youngsters. Many among them decided to volunteer for the vaccine trial as they would not get it later when it comes in the market. The approach is not right but they are young. SII should have explained thoroughly so that people could have taken an informed risk or back out.”

Hemant says, “I have taken doses after volunteer in UK had claimed in the first week of September that he has developed the neurological disorder. I was not scared or concerned. The claim by Chennai based volunteers should be investigated properly.”

“Lack of education by SII is worrisome. We were told that we can take antibody tests after shots of the vaccine, but SII did not arrange the tests. We have done tests with our own money. My test came negative. I was worried whether the vaccine is effective or it was even the vaccine.

Later after discussions with friends, I came to know the antibody test for the vaccine is not available yet. It will be available later. We were not told this,” tells Shubha G, 58, without comorbidity who volunteered for phase III trials. 

The vaccine is being developed by the UK’s Oxford University and US pharma giant Astra Zeneca. SII is a manufacturing partner.

Despite several messages to Karishma Malhotra who handles publicity for Adar Poonawala, she couldn’t connect to the official to comment on these allegations. 

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