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Covid task force chief: Decision on vaccine for kids to be based on ‘scientific rationale, supply situation’

Speaking on the declining trend of Covid-19 cases in the country, VK Paul said that though infections are coming down and the second wave is subsiding, we can’t say the worst is over.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 17, 2021 8:00:08 pm
Covid, Covid vaccine for childrenZyCoV-D has received Emergency Use Authorisation to be administered to the age group of 12-18 years in India (Express file photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The final decision on Covid-19 vaccination for children and adolescents will be taken on the basis of “overall scientific rationale” as well as the supply situation of available vaccines, Covid-19 Task Force chief V K Paul said on Sunday, news agency PTI reported.

So far, three vaccines are being used in India’s Covid immunisation drive — SII’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russia’s Sputnik V. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine and the single-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson have also received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), but are not being used yet.

Zydus Cadila’s indigenously developed needle-free three-dose Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, has got EUA and is set to become the first to be administered to the age group of 12-18 years in India. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is looking at how ZyCov-D should be positioned for most optimum use, Paul said.

Paul said preparations to incorporate Zydus Cadila’s vaccine into the immunisation programme are proceeding well. “Training is already being held. NTAGI advice for the best use of the vaccine is being explored. So soon, this will be rolled out,” he said.

Also, the government’s expert panel has recommended granting EUA for Covaxin to be used in the age group 2-18 years. Globally, the panel’s green signal is the first by an expert panel of a national regulator for the 2-18 age group. If approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), it will be the second vaccine after ZyCoV-D to get EUA for use among those below 18 years.

“Several countries have introduced vaccination for adolescents and children. We will take a final decision based on the overall scientific rationale and the supply situation of the child licenced vaccines, going forward,” Paul stated. “A pragmatic decision can be taken by balancing the supply and the potential eligibility,” he added.

Speaking on the declining trend of Covid-19 cases in the country, Paul said that though infections are coming down and the second wave is subsiding, we can’t say the worst is over.

“We have seen that even in other countries where vaccine coverage is good, escalation in the pandemic can happen and has happened. We have to be ever watchful,” he said.

He also urged states that are lagging behind in terms of vaccination to work hard and speed up the process.

Stating that “now, there is no dearth, no inadequacy of vaccine supply,” he claimed that as of today, 10 crore doses of vaccines are with state governments.

“Given the present generous vaccine supply situation and the performance of the vaccine implementation programme, it is well within our grasp to accomplish universal vaccination of the adult population,” he asserted.

Addressing the reports on syringe shortage in the country, Paul said, “There is no problem of syringe availability, we are in a good shape”.

(With inputs from PTI)

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