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Home / News / India /  India may soon decide on vaccinating children against Covid-19: Govt

While Pfizer covid-19 vaccine that has already been approved by the UK for children would soon be available in India, India is also looking at its domestic vaccines for the age group of 12 and 15 years.

“Not only Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, but Zydus Cadila's covid-19 vaccine is already being tested on children. When Zydus comes for licensure, hopefully in the next two weeks, maybe we have enough data to take a view whether the vaccine can be given to children," said V K Paul, member health NITI Aayog adding that these pathways of decision-making and analysis are being actively considered and examined.

“Child cohort is not a small cohort, if it is between 12 to 18 years, this itself is about 13 to 14 crore population and for which we will need about 25-26 crore doses. We need to vaccinate first those who are most vulnerable. We cannot have some people getting and others not getting. So, we will have to take this into account when we strategize and make a decision based on how many doses of which vaccines are available," he said.

The government also said that no decision on granting indemnity to any foreign or Indian Covid-19 vaccine-manufactures has been taken so far and anything to be finalised will be in the interest of nation and people.

“The issue has come up in the context of foreign companies, specifically Pfizer, and that the government is engaging with the US pharma major and others making such a demand," said Paul.

"In principle, the foreign manufacturers expect indemnity to be given. This is what they have said has been the case all over the world. We have also checked with other countries and the World Health Organization (WHO), said Paul.

Paul said that the manufacturers have supplied vaccines only after such indemnities have been given. “Particular companies have requested and we are in negotiation with them but there is no decision at the moment," Paul said.

Reportedly, Indian pharma major Serum Institute of India (SII) has also sought indemnity from liability for its covid-19 vaccines, saying the rules should be same for all the companies, sources have said.

"On the issue of indemnity for local manufacturers who have done such a great patriotic service, the government has a watch but there is no decision. These decisions are to be taken in totality in the interest of nation and in the interest of people," Paul said.

Serum Institute of India’s plea for indemnity follows requests for indemnity and exemption from bridging trials were made by Pfizer and Moderna to the central government.

As the government progresses on vaccination, India reported 1.32 lakhs daily fresh covid-19 in last 24 hours with 2717 deaths due to the coronavirus. Meanwhile,

Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad have collaboratively sequenced genomes of coronavirus variants in Varanasi and adjoining areas.

Their study reports at least seven major strains of coronavirus circulating in these regions. The Multidisciplinary Research Unit headed at BHU collected samples from Varanasi and areas around the city, mostly in April 2021.

The team at CCMB sequenced these samples and found out that there were at least seven major variants circulating in the region. 130 samples were sequenced in this study.

“Among the Variants of Concern (VoC), the most predominant variant we found in our study was B.1.617. This variant was also reported to be one of the major drivers of the second COVID-19 wave in India," said Professor Royana Singh, who heads the Multidisciplinary Research Unit at BHU.

“Just as in most of India, the B.1.617.2 variant (aka Delta variant) was the most common one in the samples we studied. They were found among 36% of the total samples. Other VoCs such as the B.1.351, detected in South Africa for the first time, was also found in this area", said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor, CCMB.

“This study confirms yet again that the Delta variant is the most widespread coronavirus variant in the country right now. But at the same time, it is imperative for us to keep an eye on the other emerging variants in the country to prevent another unprecedented surge of cases", he adds.

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