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COVID-19 vaccines for children: Here's how Centre plans 80% coverage in 12-18 age group

To vaccinate a large section of Indians in the 12-18 age group against COVID-19, the Centre may rely on Covaxin which is currently under trial for usage on children.

June 14, 2021 / 08:53 AM IST
File image: A health official draws a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

File image: A health official draws a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

The Centre is targeting to cover 80 percent of the 130 million people falling in the 12-18 age group as part of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for children, the Indian Express reported. Thus, the government would need to procure around 210 million shots of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

While Pfizer-BioNTech’s jab has been approved in the European Union for use in the 12-15 age bracket, the news report suggests that Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, would used in India for this purpose, the news report suggests. Covaxin is already being administered to adults. Trials are underway for its use on children.

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This is because even if Pfizer’s jab is only used for children, and not for adults, the short supply would still not be enough to cover the age group.

Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D vaccine may also supply a part of the doses required to immunise children, the newspaper report cited NITI Aayog Member—Health Dr Vinod K Paul as saying. Paul also chairs the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

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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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However, the Centre currently does not have enough data on whether ZyCov-D can be administered to children. The government is expecting to get clarity on the matter when Zydus Cadila formally approaches the Indian regulator with its application soon.

The central government, which has taken over the entire vaccine procurement process from the states, is expecting a supply of 626 million Covaxin doses between July and December and an additional 47 million doses of ZyCov-D between September and December.

The Centre plans to vaccinate all adults by the end of this year.

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first published: Jun 14, 2021 08:53 am

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