- India is likely to start vaccinating children by September
- Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Zydus Cadila's candidate are testing vaccines
- The government's plan is to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year
New Delhi: India is likely to start vaccinating children by September, the plan, which was announced by AIIMS Chief Dr Randeep Guleria. While speaking with NDTV, he emphasised that this move will be an important step in breaking the chain of transmission in the country and will help in opening schools that have been closed mostly since March 2020.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s candidate are testing vaccines for children. The results of the Covaxin trials are expected by September, AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria has said. Whereas, trials of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine are on currently in Moscow for children age between 12 to 17 years.
Zydus has already done the trials and they’re waiting for emergency authorisation. The Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin trials should be over by August or September, and by that time we should get approval. Pfizer vaccine has been already approved by the FDA (US regulator – Food and Drug Administration). Hopefully, by September, we should start vaccinating children, and that will be a big boost as far as breaking the chain of transmission is concerned, Dr Guleria told NDTV.
India has given over 44 crore doses of vaccines so far. The government’s plan is to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year.
As we move ahead in this fight against the virus, we speak with more experts to know more about options that we have in our country when it comes to vaccinating children between the age of 12 to 17 years.
Talking about which vaccine will first be available for children, Dr Suneela Garg, Member, Lancet Commission Covid India Task Force; Director, Professor HAG Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College,
First vaccine which we expect will be Bharat Biotech as that has already completed the two phases of trials that include 12 – 18 years of age children and 6 to 12. And now they will be moving to the third phase, which will include children below 6 years of age. Simultaneously, we also have ZyCoV-D for the 12-18 age group and that it could soon be available in the country as Zydus Cadila has successfully concluded the clinical trial of its DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine for that particular age group and has applied for emergency approval. Though Moderna and Pfizer are already being used for children (12-18 years) across but their coming to India, for now, is full of challenges.
Stressing on the fact that for now the way forward is to vaccinate our adults fully Dr Garg added, “Till the time we have any vaccine in hand for vaccinating our children, the only way ahead is to vaccinate our adults – as much as we can. We have to pay more focus on rural areas, though we are seeing a shift from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine eagerness, but we will have to be cautious enough to not let our guard down. We need to look at masking, testing and vaccination – basically this should be our strategy.”
Highlighting that vaccinating our children is very important, Dr Lancelot Pinto, Hinduja Hospital added,
We need to know one thing that children are an important medium of transmission and although they don’t themselves get infected badly but there is a possibility that eventually when they start going out, they will become the carriers and will infect someone who is more vulnerable. However, another thing to look out for is the fact that the elder children are at higher risk, one who are obese or suffer from some or the other disease.
Dr Pinto further said that we should not wait for the opening of schools till we vaccinate all our children as that will take time for now. He said, “Currently, we are looking at the approval of vaccines for children between the age group of 12 to 18 years. After that, we will have other age groups. This will take a lot of time and by then we will lose out a lot and there will be a hefty price we will have to pay.”
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. 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 become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.