Haryana’s health minister Anil Vij, who tested positive for Covid-19 a little over two weeks after he joined a trial for a vaccine candidate, said on Sunday it had only been 14 days since he was “vaccinated”. Vij also said that at the time of being given the shot he was told by the doctors that antibodies develop after 14 days of its second dose.
To be sure, the trial is a double-blind, randomised experiment so half of the volunteers are given a placebo and the other half the vaccine, according to Bharat Biotech’s trial registry. This means neither Vij nor those administering the shot would be aware of whether what he was given was indeed the vaccine. Technically, there is a 50% chance he got the inoculation.
“It is a double-blind trial (meaning, neither the recipient nor the researchers know who is given a vaccine and who is given a placebo). Such trials have a very rigorous protocol for unblinding,” a Union health ministry official said asking not to be named.
“Before administering Covaxin, doctors told me that antibodies will develop after 14 days of the second dose… I am being treated at a civil hospital and I feel fine. It has only been 14 days since I got the first shot,” Vij wrote on Twitter in Hindi.
The minister’s tweet comes after his illness and participation in the trial for Bharat Biotech International Limited’s Covaxin triggered confusion over the vaccine on Saturday. Hours after Vij tested positive for the coronavirus disease, the pharmaceutical company clarified that the shot is meant to be protective only two weeks after the second dose – which is given after a gap of 28 days following the first dose.
Later, the minister himself addressed the concerns by issuing a similar statement to news agency PTI.
“I was told that antibodies start to develop after the second dose, which is administered after 28 days of getting the first shot. And full antibodies are developed 14 days after the second dose is given. So, the complete cycle takes 42 days. In between there is no protection,” Vij told PTI over the phone.
Developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the government’s National Institute of Virology, Covaxin is a two-dose vaccine. It uses an inactivated virus to elicit an immune response in people.The third phase trials of the potential vaccine against coronavirus disease is currently being conducted with over 25,000 volunteers across 25 centres in the country.