As the world continues to grapple COVID-19, a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford has appeared safe and triggered an immune response, raising hope in the fight against the deadly virus. Amid this, a United Kingdom citizen with an Indian descent did his bit in developing the vaccine by volunteering for the human trials.
The 42-year-old, Deepak Paliwal, took part in the second phase of the human trial of the vaccine after he came to know about the first leg of the trial in April and enrolled himself. When he signed up for the trials, he had little support from family and friends.
"My family, including my wife, was concerned about my decision. I was told not to become a guinea pig. But this is something I had to do to help the world fight this pandemic, even if it meant risking my life," Paliwal told The Times Of India.
On April 16, Paliwal joined a team of 1,000 people to be part of the Phase 2 trials of the vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Paliwal is reportedly the only-known Indian-origin volunteer to take part in the trials.
Paliwal said that while he was happy about his contribution, he had concerns in taking part in the trial.
"I did have concerns since the vaccine had only been tested in animals. People warned me that it might affect my fertility, others said the researchers might implant a chip that would track my movements," he said.
Furthermore, some researchers had also told him that there was a small chance that the antibodies triggered by the vaccine could make him susceptible to COVID-19.
"But I didn't hesitate. I had made my decision. Besides, I wanted to represent the Asian community in a research that meant to save mankind," he said.
He received the vaccine on May 11 and had to adhere to several guidelines such as attending study trials, not travelling by public transport to the centre, and allowing investigators to study and monitor behaviours. He has had several follow-up visits and will remain under observation for a year.
Paliwal hails from Jaipur, Rajasthan, and had moved to the UK in 2010. He had completed his postgraduation from Manipal University.