India has given over 42 crore doses of vaccines so far and inoculated nearly 6% of its population while the government aims to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year.
At least 11% of the total three crore Covid-19 cases reported across the country was among the age-group below 20 years which is why it is important to make and administer vaccines to the under-19 population.
Dr. Randeep Guleria said children have had a good deal of exposure to the virus in India and that many of them have developed natural immunity. He said Covid-19 vaccines for children would be made available in India by September of this year. Preliminary data from Covaxin’s clinical trials for children is encouraging, he added.
So far, two mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are the only ones approved for use in people below the age of 18 years.
In the Covaxin trial, children between the ages of 12 and 18 years, and 6 and 12 years have received both the jabs, whereas those between the ages of 2 and 6 years are yet to get the second jab at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“We need to get our own vaccines too – that’s why both Bharat Biotech and Zydus are important. Getting the Pfizer vaccine will also be helpful, as there is enough data to suggest it’s safe… but we can’t be sure if we will get required numbers. We will hopefully have more than one vaccine for children by September,” the AIIMS chief said today.
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.”