According to Niti Aayog member (health) and India’s Covid-19 Task Force chairman VK Paul, the Centre would decide on the deployment of the Covid-19 vaccination for children under the age of 18 based on overall “scientific rationale” and supply.
Notably, Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, ZyCoV-D, has been licenced for use in the nation as the first indigenously produced, needle-free Covid-19 vaccine for persons aged 12 and up. The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) also recommended Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency usage in children earlier this week. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has yet to approve Covaxin, citing a need for more technical advice.
India is presently giving three vaccinations to qualified recipients aged 18 and up: Covishield, Covaxin, and Russia’s Sputnik V. Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc have gained approval and are discussing legal indemnification.
In an interview with PTI, Paul said that although a “particular timeline” on when Covid-19 vaccination will commence for children in India cannot be provided currently, it will soon be rolled out. He further stated that the preparation for the “incorporation of Zydus Cadila’s vaccine into the vaccination programme is proceeding well,” and that training is already being held, keeping in mind the advice by the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) for the “best use of the vaccine is explored.”
“A pragmatic decision (on vaccination of children and adolescents) can be taken (only) by balancing the supply and the potential eligibility,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Paul further cautioned against the loosening of guard against Covid-19, saying it will not be fair to say that the “worst is over.” “It is reassuring that the number of Covid-19 cases are now on the decline and the second wave is now subsiding but…we have seen in other nations, there have been more than two waves,” he told PTI.
He stressed that with the festive season underway, which invites potential gatherings across the nation, this is a “critical phase” as the virus can spread again. Dr Paul said that it has been noticed even in countries where the Covid-19 vaccination coverage is good that the “escalation in the pandemic can happen and has happened.”
The Niti Aayog official stated that states and Union territories (UTs), which are lagging behind in inoculating jabs to their adult population, must pull up their sleeves as there is “no dearth, no inadequacy of vaccine supply” now.
He also refuted claims that India will run out of ample syringes for administering Covid-19 vaccines if every adult person has to be vaccinated by the end of the year. “There is no problem of syringe availability, we are in a good shape,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.