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COVID: How is India vetting its vaccines for children?

Several vaccinations for minors will soon be approved in India, including a groundbreaking needle-free vaccine. Experts say vaccinating children will help stop the spread of the virus, especially after schools reopen.

A COVID-19 vaccine developed in India, will soon be available for adults and children over 12 years old. The Comptroller General of India (DCGI) recently approved the Zydus Cadila three-dose needleless vaccine for emergency use.

The vaccine known as ZyCoV-D, will be the first vaccine to be administered to adolescents in India. It is also the world’s first DNA platform vaccine to be approved for use in an emergency.

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The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) will also provide scientific advice on the vaccine to the National COVID-19 Vaccine Management Expert Group soon.

Head of NTAGI N.K. Arora told DW that guidelines and a timetable for phasing the vaccine will be published in the near future. “We’ll have good news soon,” Arora said.

NTAGI is the country’s main advisory body for immunization. The agency examined scientific evidence on comorbid conditions among children and the size of this vulnerable group.

According to the census, 41% of India’s more than 1.3 billion people are under the age of 18. In June, a serological survey showed that the prevalence of serology was 55.7% in the under-18 age group and 63.5% in adults. …

Slow down propagation

While children have a relatively low risk of facing the serious effects of the virus, fewer infections generally reduce the likelihood of spreading dangerous options. Pediatricians in India take a cautious but optimistic stance on vaccinating children.

In the past month, a number of states reopened schools for certain age groups. Life in India has gradually begun to return to normal after the devastation caused by the disastrous second wave in April and May, which sickened tens of millions of people and killed hundreds of thousands.

“I think vaccinating this group of children is a good idea. The candidate vaccine has been shown to be effective and will provide protection. We know that children can carry the virus that infects adults and the elderly, ”says pediatric pulmonologist Shalli Avasti of DW. King George Medical University in Lucknow.

Doctors note that hospitals in India have had many cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) during the second wave. MIS-C is a condition in which various parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and organs of the gastrointestinal tract.

Children diagnosed with MIS-C have also been infected with the coronavirus or have been near someone with it.

“Vaccinating children is good, but careful research is needed on vaccines, especially for children under 10 and over, for children under 5. There is a chance that we can give them half or even a quarter of the vaccine. dose, “leading pediatrician Promila Bhutani told DW.

‘Wider Common Good’

“No vaccine or drug is ever 100% safe, and data from the US shows very few children are affected by the disease. But we have to look at the broader overall benefit that vaccination can bring to prevent complications, ”said a senior physician from DW’s NTAGI task force.

In addition to the Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine, India is also preparing other childhood vaccines to immunize the rest of the child population.

Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune recently received approval to conduct Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of Covovax, the Indian version of the vaccine from US biotechnology firm Novavax, in children aged 7 to 11 years.

The second and third phases of the trial, which began in August, cover a total of 920 children: 40 children aged 12 to 17, 230 children aged 7 to 11, and 230 children aged 2 to 6.

Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech has completed Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Covaxin vaccine for children aged 2-18 years.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker has already submitted trial data to DCGI. The study was conducted at six different locations across the country.

“We’ll have two or three options for our child population,” Aerora said, “and that’s a good sign.”

Currently, only people over the age of 18 are eligible for vaccination through the national immunization program. The situation in India has been steadily improving since the second wave. The country has registered just 18,833 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to over 33.8 million.

To date, more than 915 million single doses of the vaccine have been administered, with at least 70% of the country’s adult population being partially vaccinated. More than 240 million people have received both doses of the vaccine.

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