Zydus vaccine for 12-18-year-olds from September, says expert panel chief
Coronavirus vaccination for children with the Zydus Cadila vaccine will start by September, said Dr. NK Arora, the chief of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration. Zydus had applied for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of its vaccine a few days ago and approval is expected in the next couple of weeks, he added. There is no approved vaccine for children in India yet.
"By the end of September we should be able to give it," Dr. Arora told NDTV. "The issue of school opening and other things are very important and those are being discussed actively (sic)."
Zydus's vaccine, called ZyCoV-D, was found safe and effective in a late-stage trial involving more than 28,000 volunteers across India. That trial also included 1,000 subjects in the 12-18 year age group, the company said. The jab is 66.6 percent effective against symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and 100 percent effective against moderate disease, according to the company.
When approved, ZyCoV-D will become the world's first DNA vaccine against the coronavirus. Unlike most COVID-19 vaccines, this jab comes with a three-dose regimen and can be applied through a "needle-free" system, the company said.
Apart from ZyCoV-D, India could have at least two more coronavirus vaccines for children in the near future. Bharat Biotech, which produces the indigenous jab COVAXIN, is currently testing the vaccine on children. Further, Pfizer's COVID-19 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.
India began its coronavirus vaccination program in January and has since administered over 36 crore vaccine doses. Even though more than 21% of Indians have received at least one vaccine shot, just about 5% have been fully inoculated as yet. India has so far given approval to four vaccines - COVAXIN, Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, Russia's Sputnik V, and Moderna.