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COVID-19 myths vs facts: Doctors, health experts dispel rumours about SARS-CoV-2 in children

NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul, said: "COVID-19 in children is often asymptomatic and seldom requires hospitalisation. However, it is possible that a small percentage of children who get infected may need hospitalisation."

June 30, 2021 / 04:34 PM IST
Representational image

Representational image

After the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic left the country in tatters with more than one lakh COVID-19 deaths recorded in two months, several sections of the media began raising questions about the vulnerability of children to get adversely impacted by COVID-19 during subsequent waves, if any.

Though the Government of India has been continually emphasising the need for COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, vaccination, and test, track, treat, to contain the pandemic, it has brought in experts several times since then to allay all other fears and apprehensions (related to the vulnerability of children).

NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul, for instance, had said at the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s media briefing on COVID-19 on June 1, 2021, that adequate arrangements are being made in terms of healthcare infrastructure in order to provide effective care and treatment to children who may get infected.

He had also clarified that COVID-19 in children is often asymptomatic and seldom requires hospitalisation. However, it is possible that a small percentage of children who get infected may need hospitalisation.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria, too said at a media briefing on COVID-19 held on June 8, 2021, that there is no data, either from India or globally, to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent waves.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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Giving further clarification on the issue he said that healthy children recovered with mild illness without need for hospitalisation while the ones admitted in the hospital due to COVID-19 infection during the second wave in India either had co-morbidities or low immunity.

Dr NK Arora, Chairperson, COVID-19 Working Group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), said on June 25, 2021, that the trials of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin have been started on children aged two to 18 years and the results will be available by September/October this year.

He also stated that even if children catch the SARS-CoV-2 infection, they will not get seriously ill.

However, in preparedness for keeping children safe during subsequent COVID-19 waves, the Union Health Ministry had already issued guidelines for ‘Management of COVID-19 in children (below 18 years) on June 18. The document provides detailed guidance on symptoms, various treatments, monitoring and management including infection prevention and control (IPC), etc.

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