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Covaxin Has Shown Good Immune Response In Children During Trials, Says NTAGI Chief

Covid panel chief Dr NK Arora explained the possible benefits of vaccinating children in the 15-18 age group, saying these people may get infected at schools and colleges

Covaxin Has Shown Good Immune Response In Children During Trials, Says NTAGI Chief
Children between the age of 12 and 18 years, particularly those in the age group of 15 to 18 years, are very much like adults, said Covid panel chief Dr NK Arora
  • Vaccination for children between 15 and 18 will begin from January 3, 2022
  • Many times adolescents get infection into their households: Dr NK Arora
  • DCGI has approved Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for those between 15-18 years

New Delhi: Covaxin has shown that it has a very good immune response in children in trials, Chairman of India’s COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) Dr NK Arora said on Sunday (December 26). In an exclusive interview on the Prime Minister’s decision on rolling out vaccination for beneficiaries between 15-18 years of age, which going to commence from January 3, Arora told ANI about the possible benefits of this decision.

Also Read: India’s Omicron Patient #2 – A Bengaluru Doctor Shares His Experience

He explained, Children between the age of 12 and 18 years, particularly those in the age group of 15 to 18 years, are very much like adults. Our research within the country also says that almost two-thirds of the deaths which occurred due to COVID in India are within this age group. So, this decision was mainly taken to protect the adolescents. There are two other advantages of immunizing adolescents. One is that they are quite mobile, they have to go to the school colleges and their risk of getting an infection, particularly in the light of Omicron, is present. Secondly, many times these adolescents get infection into their households where elderly and those with comorbidities can get infected. So, in view of all this, the country has decided to introduce vaccination for children between 15 to 18 years.

As Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given Emergency Use Authorization for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for beneficiaries between 15-18 years of age, Dr Arora said that during trials vaccine has shown good immune response.

The point is that we have a vaccine, which is approved for children. Covaxin has shown that it has a very good immune response in children in trials. In fact, it is slightly better than adults. Secondly, this vaccine is a safe vaccine, and even local effects like pain, swelling in the arms is much less as compared to adults. We would like to offer this protection to our adolescents. Although the disease’s effects are much milder, but as we know many schools have opened. A lot of parents are still not very confident in sending their children to schools. So this vaccination drive will also be giving confidence to them. I would say it’s a great New Year gift for our adolescents, he said.

In children, an immunogenicity study, not an efficacy study is present at the moment. On the efficacy of Covaxin for children, he said,

So, in children, we have an immunogenicity study, not an efficacy study. So immunogenicity means what level of antibodies are produced, and we know that there is a reasonably good relationship between antibody levels and protection. In fact, as I said, adolescents produce better levels of antibodies as compared to their adults. Here, I would also like to say that the same Covaxin dose is given to children as an adult and the interpretation between the doses is also four weeks. So as far as implementation of the programme is concerned, there is no special effort required. And immunization of these adolescents can be started within a short period without much or a specific preparation.

The number of doses for adolescents will be the same, Dr Arora said.

Also Read: Omicron Variant In India: How Can Airports Be Prevented From Becoming Covid Hotspots?

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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