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Decision On Vaccination Of Children To Be Based On Scientific Rationale: Dr V K Paul

An expert panel of India’s central drug authority has recommended granting EUA to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2-18 years age group with certain conditions

Decision On COVID Vaccination Of Children To Be Based On Scientific Rationale: Dr V K Paul
Highlights
  • ZyCoV-D will be the first COVID vaccine for 12-18 years in India
  • ZyCoV-D has recevived emergency use aurhorisation; yet to be rolled out
  • Decision on child vaccination will be based on supply of vaccines: Centre

New Delhi: The government will take a final decision on vaccinating children and adolescents against coronavirus on the basis of overall scientific rationale as well as the supply situation of vaccines available for those below 18 years old, COVID Task Force chief V K Paul said on Sunday (October 17). Dr Paul, who has been playing a key role in the government’s efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, also cautioned that even though infections are coming down and the second wave is subsiding, it will not be fair now to say that the worst is over since many countries have seen more than two waves.

Also Read: Expert Panel Recommends COVID Vaccine Covaxin In 2-18 Age Group

Currently, three vaccines — Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V — being administered in the country are only for those above 18 years of age. All of them are two-dose vaccines. Zydus Cadila’s indigenously developed needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D is set to become the first vaccine that will be available in India for those in the age group of 12-18 years. It has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).

We do know that several countries have introduced vaccination for adolescents (people) and children. We will take a final decision based on the overall scientific rationale and the supply situation of the child licenced vaccines, going forward, Dr Paul told PTI in an interview.

Also Read: Zydus Cadila’s COVID Vaccine To Be Inoculated Through An Applicator: Dr VK Paul

An expert panel of India’s central drug authority has recommended granting EUA to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2-18 years age group with certain conditions. If approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), it will be the second vaccine after ZyCoV-D to get EUA for use among those below 18 years. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is looking at how ZyCov-D should be positioned for most optimum use. According to Paul, Covaxin is a part of the adult vaccination programme and how to provision the vaccine, if at all for children, has to be also examined in the totality of the requirements of the vaccination programme.

A pragmatic decision (on vaccination of children and adolescents) can be taken (only) by balancing the supply and the potential eligibility, he said.

While noting it will not be possible now to give a particular timeline on when COVID vaccination will start for children, Dr Paul said,

The preparation for incorporation of Zydus Cadila’s vaccine into the vaccination programme is proceeding well, training is already being held. NTAGI advice for the best use of the vaccine is explored. So soon, this will be rolled out.

Also Read: 60 Lakh Doses Of Zydus Cadila’s COVID Vaccine Ready After Production In October: Report

According to Dr Paul, children are part and parcel of the chains of COVID transmission and are infected in large numbers. At the same time, COVID infections in children are very mild or asymptomatic, and that is one side of the story. On the other side, he said that once there is enough vaccine available that can be used in children, “so why not protect them”.

Schools have reopened in many states, mainly for higher classes. When asked whether the worst of the pandemic is over, Dr Paul said,

It is reassuring that the number of COVID cases are now on the decline and the second wave is now subsiding but to say that the worst is over will not be fair because we have seen in other nations, there have been more than two waves.

Cautioning that the country is passing through a phase when there are festivals and potential gatherings, he said this is a critical phase as the virus can spread again.

We have seen that even in other countries where vaccine coverage is good, the escalation in the pandemic can happen and has happened. Therefore, certainly we should not assume that this situation of the declining trend will continue and definitely we should not think that the worst is over, we have to be ever watchful, he emphasised.

Also Read: Will Cross 100 Crore Vaccine Mark Soon, CoWIN Leading World: PM Modi

While stressing that the vaccination programme has picked up huge speed, Dr Paul also said that states which are for whatever reasons lagging behind must work hard and must push vaccination.

Now, of course, there is no dearth, no inadequacy of vaccine supply. They are as of today 10 crore doses of vaccines with the state governments for the vaccination programme, he said.

As the supply situation is excellent, Dr Paul said the states must ensure that they reach out to those who are left out in the vaccination programme.

Given the present generous vaccine supply situation and the performance of the vaccine implementation programme, it is well within our grasp to accomplish universal vaccination of the adult population, he asserted.

On some reports that India simply will not have enough syringes for COVID vaccines if every single adult is to be fully vaccinated by the end of the year, Dr Paul said, “there is no problem of syringe availability, we are in a good shape”.

The country recorded 14,146 fresh COVID infections in a day while active cases declined to 1,95,846, the lowest in 220 days, according to the Union Health Ministry’s data released on Sunday.

Also Read: Union Health Ministry Issues Guidelines For COVID Vaccination At Home For People With Special Needs

(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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