India is likely to start vaccinating children by September, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria told NDTV this morning as he underlined that it will be an important move to break the chain of transmission.
“I think Zydus has already done the trials and they’re waiting for the emergency authorisation. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin trials should be over by August or September, and by that time we should get an approval. Pfizer vaccine has been already approved by the FDA (US regulator – Food and Drug Administration). Hopefully, by September, we should start vaccinating children, and that would be a big boost as far as breaking the chain of transmission is concerned,” Dr Guleria said.
India has given over 42 crore doses of vaccines so far, and the government aims to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year. However, the country is yet to clear a vaccine for children amid concern over a third wave.
A study published earlier this week by The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest medical journals, underlined that “living with 11-17 year olds increases the risk of infection by 18-30 per cent.”
Talking about it, Dr Guleria this morning said: “It’s an important issue. Vulnerable people – the elderly or those having illnesses – are at an increased risk of getting the infection (in such cases). That’s one of the reasons why people are worried about children about going to schools… they may get a mild infection but they may pass it to their grandparents. We need more data but this is something that has been shown even with influenza.”
On vaccination, the AIIMS chief further stressed: “I think it’s important both to protect children as well as to break the chain of transmission.
On Friday, the European medicines watchdog approved the use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12 to 17. In May, the United States had authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old.
Earlier this month, Dr NK Arora, who heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, had told NDTV that vaccination for children will start by September with the Zydus vaccine for 12 to 18-year-olds. “Covaxin phase 3 trials have started and by the end of September, I think we should be there (begin vaccination). I think sometime in the third quarter or by early January-February we should be able to give it to 2 to 18-year-olds,” he had said.