Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, who chairs the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, has rectified his statement that said no country in the world was vaccinating children following an uproar on social media and backlash from several political leaders.
"The release mentions that 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children'. It should read 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children under 12 years.' The other points made in that section are valid. The inadvertent typographical omission is regretted,” Paul said in a revised statement.
On May 27, Paul, who is a member (health) of the government think-tank Niti Aayog, released a lengthy statement "busting myths" on India’s vaccination process, which is under scrutiny following a shortage of jabs.Clarifying the "myth" that the "Centre is not taking any step to vaccinate children," Paul said:
The ruling party's social media handles and several ministers, including Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, tweeted Paul’s statement.
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.
As of now,no country in the world is giving vaccines to children.
WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children.
Trials on children in India are going to begin soon.
The decision is to be taken by scientists after data is available based on trials. https://t.co/Ib7iz5XP6t— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) May 27, 2021
❌ Myth: Centre is not taking any step to vaccinate children
✔️ Fact: As of now, no country in the world is giving vaccines to children. Also, WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children. pic.twitter.com/nkasogeo19— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) May 27, 2021
While the World Health Organisation part is correct, the claim about no country vaccinating children is wrong. The US had given the Pfizer vaccine to 600,000 children aged 12 to 15 after the regulator cleared the American drug maker’s and BioNTech’s shot for use in that age group, Reuters said on May 18. Other countries, too, have started vaccinating children.
Madam my son is 13 years old and already registered for getting his first jab of pfizer vaccine in Bahrain as Bahrain already started vaccination program of 12-17 years old.
You keep sleeping and be in denial . https://t.co/HItikvI0wu
— Neetu Mattas نیتو میٹس
Soon, Paul's statement was edited. Sitharaman also tweeted the clarification, while the BJP's Twitter handle deleted the tweet.
. My tweets (11) were drawing out essential elements of Dr. V K Paul of @NITIAayog answers to FAQs. Subsequently, particularly on children he has given clarification through @ANI. (See below) Have tweeted that too. May kindly see. Thanks for drawing attention. https://t.co/4SjXl7rZGR
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) May 27, 2021
While none of the COVID-19 vaccines—Covaxin, Sputnik V and Covishield— approved for emergency use in India have been cleared for children, Pfizer has told the government that its jab is safe for everyone above the age of 12.
Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called on the Centre to procure Pfizer vaccine for children. "We should procure this vaccine asap (as soon as possible) for our children," he tweeted.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech plans to start the pediatric trials of Covaxin on children between the age of 2 and 18 in June after getting the Drugs Controller General of India’s go-ahead.