Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla are aiming to introduce Covid-19 vaccines for children in India. 

All You Need To Know About Four Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates In India For Children

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Friday, June 18, 2021 04:49 PM IST
All You Need To Know About Four Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates In India For ChildrenCovid-19 vaccine. (Representative image)
  • With the SII intending to begin a Covid-19 vaccine testing on children in July, the potential of having four vaccines ready for children is plausible.

Many experts said that if the third wave of coronavirus pandemic hit India, it will primarily affect the children, even though there is not enough scientific evidence to support such claims. But healthcare professionals believe that the virus will spread among unprotected individuals and since there is no Covid-19 vaccine available for children below 18 years, the SARS-CoV-2 would mainly target them.

But a serological survey conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out that the rate of SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity — showing a positive result of a blood test for a particular antibody — in children aged two and above is comparable to that in adults, therefore there is no statistical evidence that the two to 17 age group is particularly vulnerable to a potential third wave.

Even though the ongoing study has reduced the fear of children being affected during the next possible pandemic wave, the children will still need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as many experts predicted that this virus will not go away soon.

Meanwhile, some countries, such as the United States, Singapore, Germany, Israel, France, United Kingdom and Spain, have already begun to inoculate kids below 18 or have started the initial process to do so.

Covid-19 Vaccines For Children

Bharat Biotech has developed a made-in-India vaccine called Covaxin which has been given to millions of adults in the country. Now, the vaccine is being tested on children aged between two and 18. The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker has kick-started the trials at AIIMS in Patna after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave a green signal for the Phase 2 and 3 clinical studies.

The Covaxin trials on children are set to begin in 525 subjects at various locations, including AIIMS in Delhi and Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences in Nagpur.

The company’s one-shot nasal vaccine — BBV154 — expected to be a game-changer, is already being tested. The trial also included children because it is the intra-nasal novel adenovirus vectored vaccine, making it very convenient for children's vaccination.

Zydus Cadila has also started testing its Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, in children aged 12 to 18. The pharmaceutical company now intends to conduct clinical trials for its vaccine in children aged five to 12.

As reported, the Institute of Child Health (ICH) Kolkata, one of India's oldest children's referral hospitals, will take part in a pan-India Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine for those between 12 and 18 years.

ICH professor, Jaydeep Choudhury, who would be co-investigating the trial with associate professor Monjori Mitra, the principal investigator, told The Times of India: “We have got clearance from our internal ethics committee for the trial. This is part of a pan-India study on 1,500 children. In our institute, we will be engaging 100 volunteers.”

The Serum Institute of India (SII) is planning to start clinical trials on children with Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine candidate in July. This jab developed by the American biotechnology firm is known as Covovax in India. SII, which is partnering with Novavax, expects to launch the recombinant nanoparticle protein-based vaccine by September this year.

After Novavax announced its trial data with an efficacy of more than 90 per cent, the head of India's Covid-19 task force, V K Paul, has urged SII to begin clinical trials in the paediatric population as soon as possible.

“I am hoping that they [SII] would start, in good time, trials in children; now because we have the safety data, it is time, without delay, for us now to start bridging trials in the paediatric population, which as you know is of special interest for us,” he said as reported by The Indian Express.

With the SII intending to begin a Covid-19 vaccine testing on children in July, the potential of having four vaccines ready for children is plausible, including Bharat Biotech's two vaccines and Zydus Cadilla's candidate. This suggests that if everything goes according to the plan, India will soon be able to vaccinate those who are below 18 years.

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