In early December 2021, I saw a tweet from Dr. Gagandeep Kang, of Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore, looking for volunteers for a booster dose clinical trial.
The volunteers had to have taken two doses of Covaxin in the last three to six months. It was the opportunity I was looking for. With six months since my second dose, the rise of the Omicron variant, and discussions in scientific circles about the benefits of a booster dose, I reached out to sign up.
Clinical trials are not new to me. A decade ago, when India was going through a difficult external clinical trial environment and several questions arose about its benefits, as a health communicator, I had been actively involved in demystifying clinical trials and raising awareness of their robustness.
It was my chance to put theory into practice. On December 23, I became the subject of my own stories – I received a booster dose of Covid-19 in a blinded clinical trial.
I experienced the rigor that I knew in theory – patient information sheet, medical history and clinical examination, revision of the inclusion-exclusion criteria on which I was guided earlier, informed consent form (ICF) and process, etc. I asked questions from an FAQ (frequently asked questions) I had compiled for clinical trial patients, signed my ICF and brought back a signed copy, along with a subject diary to record side effects (it is still empty!).
During the first week, I had daily follow-up calls, reduced to weekly calls thereafter, asking about my health. Four weeks after my booster, I visited CMC Vellore for a second blood drive and, after the study was unblinded, I learned that I had received a Covishield booster. I eagerly await the results of the study.
It means a lot to have participated in a clinical trial, to contribute to new research and to better appreciate what clinical research professionals devote so much of their time to. When the boosters are available in India, my participation in the trial would have helped decide which combination of boosters worked best. It’s a comforting thought.
The author is Head of Corporate Communications, IQVIA India. Views are personal
March 20, 2022