COVID-19 vaccines for children likely by September, says AIIMS chief
India will likely have its first coronavirus vaccine for children by September, said Dr. Randeep Guleria, the chief of Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The country expects to start using three vaccines for the younger population in the coming months - those developed by Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech, and the American firm Pfizer. Here are more details on this.
"I think Zydus has already done the trials and they're waiting for the emergency authorization. The Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN trials should be over by August or September, and by that time we should get an approval," Dr. Guleria said. "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."
Zydus had applied for the emergency use authorization of its vaccine earlier this month and an approval is expected soon. Besides, Bharat Biotech, which produces the indigenous jab COVAXIN, is currently testing that vaccine on children. Further, Pfizer's vaccine is already approved for use in children in foreign countries, implying when India approves it, that could be another option for children in the country.
There has been speculation that a third wave of COVID-19 will affect children harder. However, experts have said there is no evidence available yet to prove that theory. A seroprevalence study done by the World Health Organization and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences showed the level of antibodies was quite similar among both adults and children.
However, a recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that living with children aged 11-17 years can increase the risk of coronavirus infection by as much as 18-30%. The study further highlights the need to vaccinate children. Speaking of it, Dr. Guleria said, "They (children) may get a mild infection but they may pass it to their grandparents (sic)."
India began its coronavirus vaccination program in January and has since administered over 42 crore doses. Even though more than 24% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just about 6.5% have been fully inoculated yet. Meanwhile, about 67% of the country's population have developed antibodies against the coronavirus, according to the findings of fourth national serological survey, released earlier this week.
India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, reporting lakhs of cases and thousands of deaths daily. The situation has since improved as the country has been reporting around 40,000 daily cases for the past few weeks. However, experts have warned that a third wave could hit India by the end of next month.