In a major controversy around the phase three trials of one of the Covid-19 vaccine candidates, Covaxin, social activist, Rachna Dhingra has alleged that the Bhopal gas victims are being given the trial shots without their consent.
The activist who works for the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy has further claimed that poor and vulnerable residents of gas affected communities are herded by the People's University in Bhopal which is conducting the phase-3 trails of Bharat Biotech developed Covaxin vaccine.
In a series of tweets, she said, "Poor and vulnerable residents of gas-affected communities are herded by the People's University with a promise of Rs. 750." She went on to claim that most of the participants are not even aware that they are a part of the Phase-3 trial of the Covid vaccine.
3rd Phase #Covaxine trial taking place in Bhopal hasviolated every rule in d book— Rachna Dhingra (@RachnaDhingra) January 3, 2021
Poor & vulnerable residents of gas
affected communities r herded by d People's ? with a promise of Rs750. No copy of informed consent is being given 2 d participants @CDSCO_INDIA_INF pic.twitter.com/dsb9u8L77T
She wrote, "They are told that they are being given the vaccine to stop COVID-19 and no copy of the consent form is being given." Dhingra also raised a serious question, "In case of adverse conditions, they are prescribed medicines and are expected to foot the bill. Can things get worse than this?"
Baseless allegations: People's University
In a sharp rebuttal, the People's University Bhopal which is conducting trials has called the allegation baseless. "It is shocking, in this pandemic time people are making baseless allegations,'' the university responded on the microblogging site. It also added that "It's pathetic, instead of applauding the GoI's endeavour for prevention of pandemic in development of suitable & potent vaccines & encouraging the medical colleges & healthcare workers people are making spurious comments to be in public attention."
W.r.t @RachnaDhingra 's tweets, the rebuttal :-— People's University Bhopal (@Uni_Peoples) January 4, 2021
Volunteers were not confined to 3-4 specific communities as alleged. No gas victims were herded by us. People's ? strictly abided the exclusion & inclusion criteria duly approved by GoI. Only Covid -ve volunteers were registered.
The university claimed that while conducting the trials on participants all the guidelines are being followed. It said that all the participants were consented before the trials and do not confine only to a specific community. In fact, it claimed that no gas victim has been herded for trials. Responding to the allegations of offering money to the participants, the university said, "Rs. 750/- was dispersed to the volunteers by cheque as a daily allowance as per the approved trial protocol of the government of India."