COVAXIN trials on children are expected to begin in June
Bharat Biotech, the pharmaceutical firm behind India's first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, may begin trials on children in June and is expecting to receive the license in the third quarter of this year. Dr. Raches Ella, the company's Business Development and International Advocacy head, revealed this information on Sunday during a seminar in Hyderabad. He added the company is looking to ramp up production.
'We may get the license in the third quarter'
"We focused on developing the product last year. Now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity. Vaccine trials of Bharath Biotech for children may get the license in the third quarter of this year," Dr. Ella said during the seminar.
COVAXIN clinical trials on children were approved recently
Earlier this month, Bharat Biotech was allowed to carry out Phase 2/3 clinical trials on those aged between two and 18 years. The permission was granted after the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) recommended the firm's application in this regard. The trials would reportedly take place in 525 subjects at several locations.
WHO approval for COVAXIN is also on the cards
Dr. Ella further disclosed that Bharat Biotech is looking to secure the approval for COVAXIN from the World Health Organization by the end of this year. He highlighted that since the vaccine is not included in the international health body's Emergency Use Listing (EUL), even such people who have been fully vaccinated with it may face issues in traveling abroad.
Bharat Biotech is scaling up its production capacity
Bharat Biotech is also aiming to scale up its production capacity to 700 million doses by 2021, according to the company executive. Days ago, it was reported the company would add 200 million doses to its annual manufacturing capacity with the help of a plant based in Ankleshwar, Gujarat. COVAXIN is sold at Rs. 400 to state governments and Rs. 1,200 to private hospitals.
Can pregnant women take the jab?
Dr. Ella also quashed the misinformation around vaccination for pregnant women. "Right now, pregnant and lactating mothers, special population, and kids are not allowed to be given vaccines. Once separate clinical trials are done on these groups and proved effective, they will be allowed."
Why is it so important to vaccinate children?
NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr. VK Paul had on Saturday said that seropositivity rate in the 10-17 year age group is roughly the same as adults aged between 30 and 40 years, implying that children can also spread the infection. "Protecting children from infection is equally important so that they do not become part of the transmission chain," Dr. Paul reportedly said.
India has three vaccines; 3% Indians are fully vaccinated
COVAXIN is one of the three vaccines currently in use across India - apart from Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield and the Russian-made Sputnik V. So far, India has administered more than 19 crore doses of coronavirus vaccines. However, only 3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated as yet. India continues to report over two lakh coronavirus cases every day.