Children above the age of 2 years will soon be able to get vaccinated.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, the chief of AIIMS New Delhi, mentioned in an interview that Covaxin’s data for children above two years would be available by August/September after completion of the Phase 2/3 trials likely to get approval in the same month.
Dr. Randeep Guleria, leading pulmonologist, AIIMS New Delhi’s chief and a crucial member of the government’s task force on Covid-19, told in an interview that data from Covaxin’s Phase 2/3 trials for children would be available by September after completion and the approval for the same is expected in the same month.
Covaxin is an original vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR. He also said that Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccine could also be an option for children if it gets a green signal in India.
Dr. Randeep Guleria appreciated Bharat Biotech and other companies for doing trials at a very fast pace and hoped that data would lead to approvals so that there is a vaccine for children as soon as possible.
Children do not progress to the severe form of the coronavirus disease, they usually have mild symptoms, but the country needs to develop vaccines for children because if the pandemic is to get under control, everyone should be vaccinated irrespective of age.
Dr. Guleria mentioned that the Delhi AIIMS has already started screening children for multiple vaccine trials. This process started on the 7th of June and involved children between the age of 2 to 17. On the 12th of May, the DCGI had granted permission to Bharat Biotech to carry out the trials of the Covaxin vaccine on children as young as two years old in Phases 2 and 3. He said that Bharat Biotech is conducting these trials between the age group of 2 to 18 years, and it covers a wide spectrum.
Giving more details about this, Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said at a press conference that both Bharat Biotech’s Covaxvin and Zydus Cadila’s DNA vaccines for the 12-18 age group were being looked into. “Final trial results are awaited and after due scrutiny, the vaccines will be made available for children. We hope to make the vaccine available in the near future,’’ he added.
When the question was raised about opening up schools, he said, “a holistic approach has to be taken.” Dr. Randeep Guleria also said that the country’s policymakers must now plan to open up schools and colleges to prevent institutes from becoming covid hotspots and super-spreader events.
He said that in non-containment zones, children should be called to the school on alternate days, and ensuring Covid-appropriate behavior would help. Open-air schooling would be a decent way to prevent infection spread, though India’s climate may not permit it, he added.
Highlighting that serosurveys have pointed towards antibody production in children, Dr. Guleria expressed his belief that children will be the worst impacted when the third wave hits.
He declared that when children come for trials, they have antibodies in them, suggesting that children in the nation have been exposed to the infection, and despite not being vaccinated, they have successfully acquired some amount of natural protection.
A study is being conducted by Delhi AIIMS and WHO has found high seropositivity among young children. The initial findings of this study deny the claims that the third wave of Covid infections may affect children more than others.