By Kaylan Ray, New Delhi DHNS
The tale of the controversial cervical cancer vaccine trials in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat has become murkier with fresh evidences showing the complicity of the state government and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to push the unethical trial in clear violation of all norms.
Andhra Pradesh government issued an official order asking hostel wardens and principals of schools to sign the consent form on behalf of their parents. In some cases, illiterate parents were asked to give their thumb impression on the consent without any explanation before their girls were administered the vaccine.
Following the widespread criticism, when the Centre began the investigation, ICMR, which approved the trial in 2007, asked the same officer, who was a part of the planning team, to also be a part of investigation giving him access to probe documents, which activists claim, may be used to clean up the tracks.
More than 24,000 adolescent girls were subject to HPV vaccination in one district of Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat each in 2009 as a part of the trial that was meant to find out whether the vaccine can later be introduced in the universal immunisation programme.