When will the COVID-19 vaccine for children be ready?
India does not have a coronavirus vaccine for children as yet. However, two Indian companies are currently carrying out trials to change that scenario - Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila. But many questions concerning the significance and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children still remain. Let's take a look at what experts are saying about such vaccines.
There is no difference in the formula of coronavirus vaccines for adults and children. Dr. Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, the former Director General of the Indian Council of Medial Research (ICMR), told the BBC, "Vaccines are first given to 18+ age group. Once the data about their efficacy and safety is obtained, they are administered to more sensitive groups such as pregnant women and children."
The pediatric clinical trials for COVAXIN - one of India's three approved coronavirus vaccines for adults - have begun. These trials are being conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna and Delhi, among other locations. That apart, the Ahmedabad-based firm Zydus Cadila is also reportedly testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on children aged 12-18.
Dr. Sanjay Rai of AIIMS, Delhi, has reportedly said the results for these clinical trials could be expected in a few months. The health condition of the participating children will be followed up for a span of six to nine months, he said. Meanwhile, Dr. VK Paul, a top member of government's COVID-19 management team, has assured these vaccines would soon be made available.
American firm Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine has already been approved for use in children aged 12 or above in the United States, Canada, and several European countries. Singapore and the United Arab Emirates are also administering shots to some age groups of children. More recently, Chinese authorities approved the use of the coronavirus vaccine Sinovac for children as young as three.
It is important to vaccinate a high percentage of the population to achieve "herd immunity," a stage where the virus is unable to spread because many have been immunized against it. Some experts also warned a third wave of the coronavirus could hit India in under eight months and might be more dangerous for children. However, there is little evidence to prove that claim.
India began the coronavirus vaccination drive this January. However, the program has been marred by a shortage of doses. So far, more than 23 crore vaccine doses have been administered across India, but only 3.3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated.