In big news for India’s vaccination drive, the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) has recommended to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to grant emergency use authorisation for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children as young as two years.
On 12 October, the expert panel in a statement said that “after detailed deliberation, the committee recommended for grant of market authorisation of the vaccine for the age group of 2 to 17 years for restricted use in an emergency.”
This announcement makes Covaxin the second vaccine after Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D DNA based vaccine, to be approved for vaccinating those under the age of 18, and the first vaccine in the world to be approved for children below the age of 12.
Though DCGI has not given the formal nod yet, the lack of publicly available data regarding the clinical trials and the fact that Covaxin has still not been approved by the World Health Organisation has raised some concerns with health experts on how effective the vaccine will be on children.
What also does not help Bharat Biotech’s case is its previous lack of transparency about the conduct of Covaxin clinical trials in adults and how it reported adverse side effects.
And this brings up the pertinent questions on every parents mind-how safe is Covaxin for children? How many doses should be administered? And do children already affected with COVID-19 need the vaccine?
To help us answer these questions, for today’s episode we spoke to Dr Gagandeep Kang, a renowned virologist with CMC Vellore and a member of the COVID-19 World Group the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.