The Centre has said that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon be available for the 12-18 age group. The new vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila will be available soon, the Centre told Supreme Court in an affidavit.
It informed the court that Zydus Cadila, which is developing DNA vaccines, has concluded its clinical trial for between the age group of 12 to 18 years of age.
"Subject to the statutory permissions, it may be available in near future for children of the age group of 12 to 18 years of age," it added.
Giving further details on the status of vaccine availability for children, the Centre told the apex court that the Drugs Controller General of India on May 12 permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials of its vaccine Covaxin on volunteers between 2 to 18 years of age, and the enrolment process for this trial has also begun.
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.
"It is humbly submitted that as of now, the companies' manufacturing COVID-19 vaccination in India have only been given Emergency Use Authorization' for vaccinating people of 18 years age and above. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for persons/children less than 18 years of age and is due to the fact that the clinical trial cohort during Phase 1, 2 and 3 did not cover the children below 18 years of age," the affidavit read.
The centre also defended its vaccination policy that had earlier drawn flak from the Supreme Court. It informed the court that efforts are underway to inoculate the entire adult population by December 31, 2021.
The Centre said that a total of 51.6 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses would be made available by July 31 of which 35.6 crore have already been provided.
The government said that as per the projected mid-year population for 2020, the total population of the country aged 18 years and above is approximately 93-94 crore and as such, administering two doses to these beneficiaries would require an estimated 186 to 188 crore vaccine doses.
Giving the breakup for vaccines quantity that may be receivable from all sources, the Centre said that a total of 135 crore doses will be procured: Covishield (50 crore), Covaxin (40 crore), Bio E Subunit vaccine (30 crore), Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine (5 crore) and Sputnik V (10 crore).
It said that the procurement of Bio E Subunit vaccine and Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine will be subject to approval which will come in the near future.
(With inputs from PTI)Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of COVID-19