AstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech, whose Covishield and Covaxin vaccines are being used in the country’s inoculation drive against the coronavirus, are conducting studies to determine safe and effective doses for children, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria told NDTV in an interview.
“If we really need to control the pandemic and have children back to school and be comfortable with that, we will have to look for vaccines which are for children. And I am aware that both the vaccine candidates which are being used in India are conducting studies to look at safety and dose as far as children are concerned,” he said.
The central government had launched the phased vaccination drive in January. It had first opened vaccinations for frontline workers. Last month, it started vaccinating those above 60 and those above 45 with some listed diseases. To increase the pace of vaccinations amid a second wave of infections, the centre will inoculate all adults above the age of 45 from April 1.
Over 5.5 crore people in India have received at least one dose of the vaccines.
Earlier this year, India’s drug regulator had authorised emergency use of the two drugs on people above 18.
“You can’t say that children are little adults, they are different in terms of both the dose that is required and the side-effects than can happen … So, we need data. But, if we are able to get more vaccines, whatever be the companies, that would be useful for our country because that will allow us to vaccinate more and more people,” he said.
Dr Guleria’s remarks came on a day when pharma companies BioNTech-Pfizer declared that their vaccine trials showed 100 per cent efficacy against the coronavirus in children aged between 12 and 15. They are planning to get approval for the vaccine’s use in the United States on children under 15.
India has been reporting over 50,000 daily coronavirus cases for the last several days. The governments of the worst-affected states are planning to expand the vaccination drive to arrest the Covid surge.