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Pasteur, Jenner inspired me: Pune vaccine trial volunteer

A 48-year-old doctor who was administered the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate, says he was inspired by immunology greats Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner to volunteer for the second phase trial in Pune.

The man, who was administered the vaccine candidate dose on Wednesday, said his vital signs are normal and he has resumed routine work.

“As I work in the healthcare sector, I know vaccines have made a huge difference in the quality of human life. When I read the history of vaccination, I got inspired by pioneers Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner who performed the trials on themselves. They inspired me to volunteer,” he told PTI.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) was a French chemist who proved that germs cause disease, and developed vaccines for anthrax and rabies, while Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was an English doctor and discoverer of vaccination for smallpox.

The volunteer said he had also volunteered 10 years ago for clinical trials for a vaccine against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

The phase-II clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, started at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College and Hospital here on Wednesday, with two volunteers being administered the Covishield vaccine.

Hospital authorities said the identity of the volunteers cannot be revealed.

The doctor said his 21-year-old daughter had also volunteered herself during the trial of a vaccine on cervical cancer in 2014.

“My daughter, who is pursuing a B Tech degree, has volunteered and become eligible for the (Covishield) trial as her reports COVID-19 and antibody came negative,” he said.

He said he is feeling good that he and his daughter could become a small part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by volunteering for the trial. This is a noble and global effort for mankind, he added.

“Since yesterday, my vital signs are normal and I have started my routine work,” he said.

He said he has worked as a teacher at the medical college and tried to create awareness among the medical students about the vaccination trials. “To lead by an example, I volunteered myself for the H1N1 vaccine trial,” he said.

The volunteer said as per the ICMR panel norms, he is entitled to get a traveling allowance for the hospital visits.

“If the volunteer has some health issues during the trial period, the treatment is free,” he said.

The second volunteer, a 32-year-old man, who is a Ph.D. holder in statistics and works in a private firm, said he was excited to become a part of the trial.

“When I came to know about the trials through social media, I approached the hospital and enrolled myself for the voluntary vaccination trial,” said the person, who hails from Aurangabad in Maharashtra.