Bhopal gas survivors call for stoppage of gross ethical violations in Covaxin’s clinical trials

By Pervez Bari 

Bhopal: At a virtual Press conference organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal on Sunday called upon the Prime Minister to immediately stop the ongoing clinical trial of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in Bhopal.

In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Union Health Minister sent this morning, the organizations have also sought punishment for all responsible parties who were negligent in ensuring the safety, well being and the rights of the trial participants and monetary compensation for damages caused during the Covaxin trial in Bhopal.

Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh and a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, said: “At least 700 of the 1700 people on who this vaccine, with unknown efficacy, is being tested, are people poisoned by Union Carbide. One gas victim has already died within 10 days of getting the trial shot and many continue to have health complaints of serious nature. No one has been punished for the death of 13 gas victims who died during trials by Pharma companies at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre some twelve years back. We are writing to the Prime Minister to ensure there is no repeat.” 

On behalf of Bhopal survivors’ organisations, she demanded that the family of the gas victim who died during the Covaxin trial be paid Rs. 50 lakhs as is done in the case of deceased “Corona warriors”. 

Highlighting some of the irregularities of the ongoing trial, Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said: “People whose health is compromised due to Union Carbide’s poisons are being given the Covaxin trial shots without their knowledge or consent. 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.”

Describing the demands of the Bhopal survivors’ organizations, Shehzadi Bee of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said: ” In addition to immediate stoppage of the trial and compensation for the gas victim who has died during this trial we demand a thorough and impartial audit, criminal punishment of officials and institutions responsible for this public health disaster and compensation for injuries caused due to trial vaccines.”

Nousheen Khan of the Children Against Dow Carbide said that by ignoring the ongoing criminal irregularities in the Covaxin trial in Bhopal, the Government is potentially unleashing a public health disaster on the 16th of this month.