COVID-19 vaccine for children is likely to be available by August, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said at the BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, 27 July.
"We would likely begin vaccinating children from next month," the health minister reportedly said during the meeting, ANI reported.
The statement has come when questions and concerns over the impact of the possible third wave of COVID-19 on children are increasing. As of now, every citizen who is 18 or above is eligible for the vaccine shot.
What vaccines are available for kids? When can they get the shot? What is the update on the trials of the vaccines? Here’s everything we know.
What vaccines are available for children in India?
In India, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Zydus Cadila's are in the trial phase. AIIMS Chief Dr Randeep Guleria told ANI that the final results of Covaxin trials are expected by September.
The vaccine trials are being conducted in three phases, as per the age of the children. The first trial was conducted in the age group of 12 to 18 years, followed by the age group of 6 to 12. Currently, trials for the ages of 2-6 years are underway.
Zydus Cadila, the Ahmedabad-based company, has concluded its trial for the 12 to 18 years group and has asked for emergency use authorisation (EUA) of its plasmid DNA vaccine.
Dr Guleria said that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can also be an option for children in India, once it gets approval, reported India Today.
What about Pfizer or AstraZeneca? Are their vaccines safe to be given to children?
According to WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) Pfizer-BioNTech is safe for use by people aged 12 years and above. It has also received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for use on children in the age group of 12 to 17 years.
Whereas, the UK trial of AstraZeneca vaccine on children has been halted due to the fear of rare blood clots, said Oxford University in April this year. The trials would only resume after there is enough additional data from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Is it safe to vaccinate children against COVID-19?
Safety is always the primary concern in clinical trials and is taken care of. All vaccines get approval only after successful trials and testing.
Vaccines such as mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer–BioNTech, and two Chinese vaccines made by Sinovac and Sinopharm have been tested in kids over the age of 12 and declared safe.
In India, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Zydus Cadila's vaccine are in the trial phase and will likely get approval by the end of this month.
Which other countries are vaccinating kids?
According to Nature Journal, globally, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and those by Sinovac and Sinopharm have been tested on young people above 12.
Russia’s Sputnik V is currently conducting trials on children in the age group of 12 to 17 years.
Countries such as US, China and Israel are offering vaccines to this age group.
The US Food and Drug Administration has already given approval to Pfizer for use on children in the age group of 12 to 17 years. They are also conducting trials on children between 6 months and 11 years.
When can they get the jab in India?
If approved, children in the age group of 12 to 17 would be the first ones to get their shot. According to the health ministry, vaccination would likely begin in August.