The COVID-19 has claimed over 700 thousand lives across the world. About 20 million individuals have been infected by the virus that has continued to spread unabated and scientists race to find a cure. Already, the pandemic has changed the world, forcing entire nations to adapt to lockdowns—perhaps, excluding Kashmir and Palestine.
While it is not certain when an effective vaccine will be available to allow life to go back to normal, trials have given hope with six vaccines that are currently in the third phase of trials. According to the World Health Organisation more than 160 vaccine candidates are in preclinical or clinical trials, twenty-three of them in clinical trials while six are in final stages, phase-III of human trials.
The first person to get a vaccine was 43-year-old Jennifer Haller in the United States of America. “I hope that we get to a working vaccine quickly and that we can save lives and people can go back to life as soon as possible,” she told the TIME magazine.
It was also a risk on part of Ms. Haller. Normally vaccine production requires years of testing and additional time but scientists are hoping to develop a coronavirus vaccine within 12 to 18 months. Still, pictures of a smiling Ms. Haller receiving the vaccine shot were all over the news and the internet. It gave hope that a vaccine was near.
Of those inspired by Ms. Haller is 31-year-old Younis Mustafa Khan, a Kashmiri engineer working in Abu Dhabi. “At that time no one knew what would happen by getting that shot, it could have been serious and she would have even lost her life,” said Mr. Khan, who describes himself as a student of science.
Mr. Khan has been eager to contribute to science and his moment arrived when he read of COVID-19 vaccine trials in Abu Dhabi. “I think, the pandemic has crossed all the level of human imagination now,” he said. “Economies are crashing, people are dying and in fact, the living ones are losing their jobs. Someone has to come forward, to help the cause. So I went ahead and volunteered for the cause. I am sure we will win it together.”
Mr. Khan had not informed his family back home until he had gotten the vaccine shot. “I did not ask them before, but after I got the shots, I told my mom and she was asking all the weird questions in the world. I assured her, in the turbulent times we all have to help each other and that will make us win. Else it’s going to take long. Though she is still not convinced, my dad was okay about it,” he recalled.
According to a survey people are largely wary of getting a shot even if it is approved. In the US one in three were likely to refuse an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine even if it were offered at no cost, a new Gallup poll has found. In the context of the poll, Mr. Khan’s volunteering for the trials is nothing short of a very brave “sacrifice”. “I am sure my act will encourage others and those who are afraid will come forward so that we have a normal life soon,” he said.
Mr. Khan is among the very few in the world to get the shot before being approved and he might as well be the very first Kashmiri to get it. “I would request people around the globe to come forward for the cause, and help the world to come out of this ugly opportunist times. Until we don’t test it on humans, we won’t be sure how it’s gone help,” he said.
Talking about the experience he said: “The shot is surely painful, as it’s a muscular injection. It will surely give you anxiety, which I was feeling as well noted by my Blood Pressure going up to 140/98, which is usually not normal. But a phone call to my mother to divert my attention helped.”
Mr. Khan got the shot on 3 August and is now under constant monitoring. “I am doing fine. I have been assigned a task from the centre to check my conditions and update them on my record book. It’s a great thing and I stay active by this. I have started going to the office and I am doing normal things daily to check if I have any symptoms,” he explained.
The trial team calls Mr. Khan almost daily about his health. “I have virtual appointments and I can take them whenever I feel like. In fact, I have been advised, if I feel any symptom, I can go to any nearest medical center or hospital and let them know, it will be their priority,” he said. On being asked if he regretted the decision, Mr. Khan said: “I am feeling great and I am hopeful we will cross the finish line soon.”