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WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan tells Tamil Nadu govt to consider reopening schools for all classes

The Tamil Nadu government reopened schools for classes 9 to 12 from September 1. However, it is yet to announce the reopening of schools for the lower classes.

September 27, 2021 / 02:58 PM IST
World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan (File image: Reuters).

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan (File image: Reuters).

Citing the ICMR’s serosurvey report, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the Tamil Nadu government to consider taking offline classes and conduct classes for all.

The Tamil Nadu government reopened schools for classes 9 to 12 from September 1. However, it is yet to announce the reopening of schools for the lower classes.

As per the serosurvey study conducted in June and July, children were found with the same percentage of antibodies as adults despite staying at home.

Swaminathan said that the reason for the presence of antibodies among children was community exposure as kids go shopping, playing, and mingling with others, News18 has reported. 

Also Read: India to target children for COVID-19 vaccine from October: Report

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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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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The percentage of seroprevalence in the country was 67.6 percent. Of this 57.2 percent of antibodies were found among the 6-9 age group and 61.6 percent were found in the 10-17 age group.

Swaminathan was attending the “Every child a scientist” virtual programme at MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. The programme was inaugurated by School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi.

Replying to Swaminathan, he said that CM MK Stalin would take a final call on reopening classes.

Swaminathan also added that there is no scientific basis to claim that the next wave of COVID will affect children severely.

However, the proportion of infection among kids might change as they are not vaccinated yet but the severity of the disease is very minimal among children when compared to adults.

“Among the younger age group, less than 1 percent of children are getting admitted to the hospitals," she said.

Earlier, she also said that children have been less severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and their chances of recovery are very well.

"I want to assure you that children, on the whole, have been less severely impacted by this pandemic. Not that they don't get infected. Yes, they do get infected as adults but they don't get severely ill. Clearly, it is an age-related correlation with the severity," she had said.

"Even if they get infected, the chances are that they recover very well," the WHO chief scientist had said.

On the inoculation of children in India, she said there will be vaccines for children.

The drug regulator has given a nod to Zydus Cadila for administering to adolescents over 12 years, besides the age group of 18 years and above.

The phase 2/3 clinical trial data of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin in the age group two to 18 years is underway.

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) in July granted permission to Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting phase 2/3 trials of COVID-19 vaccine Covovax on children aged two to 17 years with certain conditions.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu inoculated 24.85 lakh, people, against COVID-19 in the third edition of the Mega Vaccination drive held on Sunday, as against the projected 15 lakh doses.

Of the 24.85 lakh people who received the jabs, 14.90 lakh got the first shot while the remaining 9.95 lakh were administered the second dose of vaccine, a press release said.

Speaking about the number of COVID-19 cases, the daily count of COVID-19 cases in the state dropped to 1,694 on Sunday.

As many as 14 people succumbed to the virus, mounting the toll to 35,490, a medical bulletin said on Sunday.

The total caseload rose to 26.57 lakh with the addition of 1,694 new cases.

(With inputs from PTI)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Sep 27, 2021 02:58 pm

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