Asia

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

ISLAMABAD: The physician heading a Phase III clinical trial in Pakistan for a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate on Tuesday (Sep 29) urged people to volunteer for the trial, overcoming the resistance in the country to immunisation programmes.

Pakistan launched the trial last week for Ad5-nCoV, a vaccine candidate co-developed by CanSino Biologics and a Chinese military-backed research unit.

Advertisement

Advertisement

It is the first-ever large scale trial in Pakistan, which has grappled with disinformation around other long-established vaccines, and attacks on health workers administering them.

Efforts to eradicate polio, for instance, have for years been undermined by opposition from some militants, who say immunisation is a foreign ploy to sterilise Muslim children or a cover for Western spies.

“There are lots of challenges whenever you introduce something new and a vaccine is part of it. Vaccine hesitancy, unfortunately, with a country like Pakistan is also pretty much high,” Ejaz A Khan, who is heading the trial at Islamabad's Shifa International Hospital, told Reuters on Tuesday.

"People should come and volunteer, people should not be hesitant. They can take part and become part of the team which is fighting COVID-19."

Advertisement

Advertisement

READ: Pakistan puzzles health experts as COVID-19 cases drop

Khan, who has taken part in immunisation drives for three decades in Pakistan, said even existing vaccines had side effects, and hoped Ad5-nCoV would not fall prey to this discussion.

Shifa International, the first of five trial sites in Pakistan, has repurposed a building previously used for COVID-19 testing for the trial, which it hopes will have 2,000 participants.

Volunteers arrive by appointment, and are recruited through NGOs, hospitals, and corporations.

FILE PHOTO: A paramedic wearing protective gloves arranges test tubes with blood samples to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) anti-body test, at a camp in Karachi, Pakistan Jul 24, 2020. (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo)

Volunteers must be over 18, not have tested positive for COVID-19, not have immune deficiencies, and not be pregnant for the duration of the trial. A one-time 2,000 Pakistani rupees (US$12) compensation for travel and food expenses is provided, KhRead More – Source