Vaccine for children in India by September, says ICMR

Children between the age of 2 to 18 may be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by September this year, said Priya Abraham, the director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s National Institute of Virology. As per Abraham, the phase 2-3 clinical trials for the vaccines are currently underway on children.

There are two vaccine candidates that have been tested among children in India- Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D. The Covaxin trial includes 525 volunteers while ZyCov-D’s trials – as part of the phase II/III clinical studies – includes 1,000 volunteers in the 12-18 age group. Giving an overview of vaccine development process at the institute, she said, “We quickly isolated and gave a strain to Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) by the end of April (2020), after which they developed a whole virion-inactivated vaccine in the month of May and gave us back for review. We checked it for its complete inactivation, did its complete characterisation and started pre-clinical trials on hamsters and non-human primates, that is, monkeys. In the next phase, we assisted them in the Phase I, II and III clinical trials in areas such as diagnostic aspect and laboratory support”. Last month, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria had said that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin trials for children are presently underway and the results are expected to be released by September.

In addition to this, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had told BJP MPs that Covid vaccination for children is likely to start soon. Currently, only those who are 18 or above are eligible for vaccination against coronavirus.