The subject expert committee on COVID-19 of India's drug regulator will on Friday review the applications of Serum Institute of India seeking emergency use authorisation to use Covovax among those aged two to seven years and seven to 11 years, official sources said. The two applications were submitted by Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) on March 16 and June 1.
The expert panel in its last meeting in April had sought more data from SII following its application seeking the emergency use authorization of Covovax for seven to 11 years. Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved Covovax for restricted use in emergency situations in adults on December 28 and in the 12 to 17 years age group subject to certain conditions on March 9.
India began inoculating children aged 12-14 on March 16. The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase. Vaccination of frontline workers started from February 2 last year. The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on March 1 last year for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
India launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1 last year. The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 years of age to be inoculated against the viral disease from May 1 last year. The next phase of vaccination commenced from January 3 for adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years.
India began administering precaution doses of vaccines to healthcare and frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with comorbidities from January 10. The country began administering precaution doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all aged above 18 years at private vaccination centres on April 10.
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.