When can your kid return to school? AIIMS chief answers
For much of the past one-and-a-half year, children have been unable to attend classes physically at their schools, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. This has taken a toll on their learning and growth. Now, the government must work on reopening schools, AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria feels, and tells us how that can be done without compromising on children's safety.
"Schools have to be reopened and vaccination can play an important role in that," Dr. Guleria said, according to PTI. "I personally feel that we should aggressively work on opening schools because it has really affected the young generation in terms of knowledge and especially the marginalized ones who can't go for online classes, they are suffering," the top doctor had earlier told ANI.
Dr. Guleria said we can expect a vaccine for children in India around September. That is the time when results from Phase 2/3 trials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN are expected to be out. He said the jab can be given to children as soon as the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) grants approval to it.
The government is also working to bring Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to India, which is already approved for use among children in several countries. "If the Pfizer vaccine gets approval...then it can also be an option for children," Dr. Guleria said. Apart from that, Zydus Cadila is testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on children and can provide another option if it gets the regulatory nod.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India (SII) is expected to start clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine Covovax on 920 children from next month. The firm is looking to launch the jab for children by the end of this year. Covovax has been developed by Novavax, a company based in Maryland, United States, and is said to be more than 90% effective.
There has been speculation that a new wave of COVID-19 infections would affect children harder. However, experts have said there is no data available yet to prove that theory. Citing a seroprevalence study done by the AIIMS and the World Health Organization, the Indian government has made it clear that the level of antibodies has been found quite similar among both adults and children.
India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, witnessing lakhs of cases and thousands of fatalities daily. Daily cases in India had peaked at 4,14,000 in early May. The situation has since improved. In the past 24 hours, the country reported 46,148 fresh cases and 979 deaths. Nearly 5.6% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated so far.