India Needs More Transparency in Its COVID-19 Vaccine Trials, Critics Say

November 25, 2020

(Science) – Last month, Anil Hebbar, a health entrepreneur, spoke to the media about his experience volunteering for a COVID-19 vaccine trial at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India. He says he wanted to demystify the process of volunteering in a trial. But the hospital’s dean, Hemant Deshmukh, responded with a threat, telling The Times of India the hospital may “be forced to not give this volunteer the second shot” in the study. Hebbar ultimately did receive his second dose. But the exchange highlighted ongoing concerns about the transparency of India’s COVID-19 vaccine trials. The nation now has five vaccine candidates in various stages of human testing. But the design, conduct, and regulation of these trials is often opaque, said researchers, bioethicists, journalists, lawyers, and others who participated in webinars hosted this month by the nonprofit Sama Resource Group for Women and Health.