Over 470 children below the age of 10 have been infected with COVID-19, since the beginning of this month in Bengaluru, as the city is witnessing a spike in infections.
A total of 244 boys and 228 girls have been infected from March 1 to 26, official data showed.
The cases among children were limited to eight to nine daily during the early days of this month but they have steadily risen to 46 on March 26.
According to some experts, unlike in the past children are now vulnerable because they are more exposed to outdoor activities, functions and gatherings, as also schools reopening for a certain age group, which was not the case earlier due to lockdowns.
"There is more and more exposure of children because of the opening of schools, also a lot of functions and gatherings. Earlier they used to be protected, but since they are exposed to several of these events, the risk has also gone up considerably," Dr Giridhara R Babu Professor and Head Lifecourse Epidemiology, Public Health Foundation of India told P T I.
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.
Also a member of the state Covid-19 technical advisory committee, the epidemiologist said, children in many cases may also be spreaders among family members.
"...children going to schools or indulging in outdoor activities on contracting the virus from others, there is a high possibility of them spreading to others, like family members, friends," he added.
Officials also point out that children are also easily vulnerable as it is difficult for them to maintain physical distance and wearing masks for long.
Though most children below the age of ten may not be going to school for now, they are likely to come in contact with other kids who are vulnerable during outdoor activities like in the playground or parks, they said.
"As one of the measures to control the spread among children, we have recommended closure of schools for students other than those who have public exams", Babu said, adding, "we have even recommended that they should be passed to the next grade without examination, but the government has to take a decision."