After the subject expert committee (SEC) approved Covaxin for emergency use on children aged 2 to 18, worried parents can now heave a sigh of relief. There is now one other vaccine option to choose from besides the already-approved Zydus Cadila that will become a part of the national Covid-19 vaccination drive.
Experts said vaccination for children against Covid-19 was more necessary than ever as schools have reopened in many states. Others, too, are deliberating reopening schools when the festival season ends. There has been a gradual rise in paediatric cases of those aged below 10.
Highly-affected Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha and Delhi have reported coronavirus cases in children in the last month. In Kerala, which has been contributing to the bulk of the total caseload in the country over the past month or so, Covid antibodies have been found in at least 40 per cent children, as per a sero survey conducted by the state government. Maharashtra and Delhi have also reported 50 to 75 per cent antibodies in children.
Owing to rising cases in children and at least two vaccines at hand for emergency use, the central government is looking to begin vaccinations for kids. According to a report in Times of India, the Centre is planning to begin vaccinating co-morbid children aged 12 to 17 latest by October-November.
Though known to have a mild effect on children, Covid-19 can lead to a condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children that can sometimes be deadly.
“India’s greatest national treasure is our children. We can get immunity from Covid-19 virus either through infection or through vaccination. The infection was 4% among children in the first wave, whereas 10-15% in the second wave. This is an encouraging news that the central drug authority has recommended granting emergency use authorisation to Covaxin for children in the 2 to 18 years age group with certain conditions. I am very much sure that this initiative will be a gamechanger to protect our children and adolescents," said Dr Sujeet Ranjan, associate director, nutrition, Tata Trusts.
Even as Bharat Biotech awaits regulatory approvals for the emergency use of Covaxin for children, here are all the other vaccines lined up for children in India:
Zydus Cadila: The three-dose needle-free vaccine ZyCov-D was approved in August for emergency use and can be administered to adults as well as adolescents aged 12 and above. The DNA-based vaccine, however, is yet to be made available on the market. It is the first Covid-19 vaccine approved for adolescents in India.
Covaxin: The latest to be approved by Drugs Controller General of India, Covaxin is Bharat Biotech’s homemade vaccine and has sufficient data about its efficacy on adults. Unlike Covaxin for adults and other Covid-19 vaccines in multi-dose vials, the paediatric Covaxin will use a pre-filled syringe mechanism. The dosage for children will be 0.5 ml, the same as for adults.
Novavax/Covovax: The American vaccine Novavax, which has been named Covovax in India, will be produced by Serum Institute of India. In July, India’s drug regulator granted permission to Serum institute for conducting second and third phase trials of the first protein subunit vaccine on children aged 2 to 17 with certain conditions. The vaccine maker kickstarted paediatric trials for adolescents aged between 12 and 17 in August, and then got approval to conduct clinical trials in the age group of 7 to 11 towards the end of September. The institute has also presented safety data for an initial 100 participants among adolescents. Serum is expected to launch the vaccine for children early next year.
Corbevax: The DCGI has also granted permission to Hyderabad-based Biological E Limited to conduct second and third phase clinical trials a homegrown vaccine on children aged between 5 and 18 with certain conditions. The trial for Corbevax will be conducted across 10 sites. The shot is an RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is currently undergoing second and third phase clinical trials on adults.