At least four NGOs working for the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the ongoing clinical trials for India's first indigenous Coronavirus vaccine-Covaxin, be stopped in Bhopal citing "gross violation of laws and guidelines".
The NGOs have also demanded punishment for the "responsible parties who were negligent in ensuring the safety, well being and the rights of the trial participants" and sought monetary compensation for "damages caused during the Covaxin trial in Bhopal", India Today reported.
The signatories of the letter include- Rashida Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, and Nausheen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide.
"We are writing to you to apprise you of the on-ground situation with regard to the conduct of the trial. Evidence has emerged that the trial in Bhopal is being conducted in gross violation of laws and guidelines governing clinical trials in India," the letter read.
The NGOs alleged that vulnerable and poor people were being misguided and herded to participate in the trials, and the consent protocol of the testing is being violated.
"This is leading to exploitation and harm to a community of people that are not just economically and socially deprived, but whose health is compromised owing to the destructive impact and its consequences," they wrote in the letter to PM Modi.
"People whose health is compromised due to Union Carbide's poisons are being given the Covaxin trial shots without their knowledge or consent," Rachna Dhingra said.
"No records are kept of the health problems the trial's participants have had following the shots and several have been turned away without tending to the adverse effects of the shots. Trial participants who leave or are excluded halfway are denied care and are not followed up," she alleged.
"At least 700 of the 1,700 people on who this vaccine, with unknown efficacy, is being tested, are the people poisoned by Union Carbide (gas leak in 1984). One gas victim has already died within 10 days of getting the trial shot and many continue to have health complaints of serious nature," Rashida Bee said.
A 42-year-old man, who had participated in the clinical trial for Covaxin in Bhopal on December 12, died nine days later. Doctors suspected that the man could have died due to poisoning.
Reacting to the man's death, Bharat Biotech had said in a statement that the death was unrelated to Covaxin.
"Nobody was punished for the death of 13 gas victims during the trials by pharma companies at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre some 12 years ago," Bee alleged.
She also demanded compensation worth Rs 50 lakh for the people "who have died during the Covaxin trial, as being given in the case of deceased corona warriors".