Mumbai: Covid vax trial participants, those who got jabs abroad, struggle for train passes | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Mumbai: Covid vax trial participants, those who got jabs abroad, struggle for train passes

ByJyoti Shelar, Mumbai
Aug 18, 2021 12:47 AM IST

Hundreds of clinical-trial participants are struggling to get a train travel pass as their data is yet to be uploaded on the CoWin software

In October 2020, Mankhurd resident Shakeel Shaikh had enthusiastically participated in the Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial at Parel’s KEM hospital. In April 2021, when the hospital unblinded the trial, Shaikh, 40, was told that he had received two shots of the real Covishield vaccine and not the placebo. He also received a certificate from the hospital to verify that he was fully vaccinated. But since last week, Shaikh has failed to convince civic and railway officials to consider this certificate so that he can get a railway pass.

Central and Western Railway officials HT spoke to said that they were not involved in the verification process. (Hindustan Times)
Central and Western Railway officials HT spoke to said that they were not involved in the verification process. (Hindustan Times)

Like Shaikh, hundreds of clinical-trial participants are struggling to get a train travel pass as their data is yet to be uploaded on the CoWin software. “I have tried to convince officials sitting at the helpdesk at Mankhurd and Kurla railway stations, but they refused to consider my certificate,” said Shaikh. “I also tried to generate an e-pass, but that’s also linked to CoWin,” he said.

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According to Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM Hospital, they had unblinded the trial with permission from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which was a co-investigator in the trial and its ethics committee. “We have already requested the ICMR to update the data of trial participants. It is likely to be done by month-end,” said Deshmukh, adding that there would be nearly 200 such trial participants whose records have to be updated on CoWin. “All trial sites will have such participants,” he said.

In another case, 30-year-old Wadala resident Naved Kazi, who got two doses of the Moderna vaccine in Qatar, has been struggling to get a pass. The civic and railway officials at the helpdesk at Wadala railway station refused to consider his vaccine certificate issued by Doha’s Hamad Medical Corporation. “I could not even generate an e-pass with my certificate,” said Kazi, who worked in the hospitality sector in Doha for three years and is now looking for a job in Mumbai. “I have interviews lined up. I need to take the train,” he said.

Central and Western Railway officials HT spoke to said that they were not involved in the verification process. “The civic officials are at the helpdesks to verify the vaccination status. Our staff is only assisting them,” said Sumit Thakur, chief public relations officer, Western Railway. An official from Central Railway echoed the same.

A senior civic official said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has already written to the Maharashtra government to upgrade the e-pass website for those vaccinated abroad. It is likely to be done soon.

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