The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the drug regulator has recommended granting an emergency use authorisation to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children aged between 2-18. The SEC has submitted its recommendation to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for final approval.
“After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended for grant of market authorization of the vaccine for the age group of 2 to 18 years for restricted use in an emergency situation," the expert panel said in a statement.
It said that the emergency use authorisation, however, is subject to four conditions.
"The developer of Covaxin will continue the study as per Whole Virion, Inactivated Corona Virus Vaccine the approved clinical trial protocol," SEC added.
Other conditions listed by the expert panel are: The firm should provide updated Prescribing Information/Package Insert (PI), Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) and Factsheet; the firm should submit safety data, including the data on AEFI and AESI, with due analysis, every 15 days for the first two months and monthly thereafter and also as per requirement of New Drugs & Clinical Trials Rules, 2019; and the firm should submit risk management plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Bharat Biotech had last week submitted Phase 2/3 clinical trials data of children's trials to the DCGI for its verification and subsequent approval for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the jab.
Bharat Biotech, in a statement, said that this represents one of the first approvals worldwide for COVID-19 vaccines for the 2-18 age group.
"Bharat Biotech sincerely thank the DCGI, Subject Experts Committee, and CDSCO for their expedited review process. We now await further regulatory approvals from the CDSCO prior to product launch and market availability of COVAXIN for Children," it said.
Two doses of Covaxin will be administered to children with a gap of 28 days. For adults, the government has set a gap of 4-6 weeks between the two shots.
Covaxin, indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is being used on adults in India's ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive.
This is the second COVID-19 vaccine to get approved for children in India. DGCI had, in August, approved ZyCoV-D for children aged 12 and above as well as adults. However, the rollout has not yet begun.