'Very important to safeguard them': Experts bat for starting COVID-19 vaccine trial for kids

Covid-19 mortality is low in children due to less lung penetration, fewer Ace2 receptors (associated with entry of SARS-C-oV-2) and reduced cytokine storm.

Published: 11th March 2021 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th March 2021 10:39 AM   |  A+A-

A medic prepares a dose of COVID vaccine in a syringe during a vaccination drive at Hindu Rao Hospital in New Delhi

For representational purpose. (File| PTI)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The question of starting vaccine trials on children below 12 was discussed at a recent meeting of the Indian Medical Association’s Standing Committee on Child Health.

Chairman of the Standing Committee Dr S Srinivasa, who is from Karnataka, said that he has asked the national president Dr J A Jayalal to write to the Centre on permitting clinical trials in children as it is “very important to safeguard them. They are carriers of the novel coronavirus and can spread the disease easily.”

Covid-19 mortality is low in children due to less lung penetration, fewer Ace2 receptors (associated with entry of SARS-C-oV-2) and reduced cytokine storm.

However, they do experience symptoms such as skin rashes, fever, joint pain, joint swelling, and complications such as as multi system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), Kawasaki Syndrome, etc, said Dr Srinivasa.

With new vaccines, the general practice is to assess them in adults before doing trials on children. Clinical trials on children as young as six years are being done for different vaccines across the world. 

While data shows that mortality from Covid-19 in children is low, experts differ on the rate of infection spread.

“In children respiratory infections spread fast because of close contact and droplet spread,” Dr Srinivasa said. However, other experts say that the infection did not spread as much among children as it did among adults.

“There have been no Covid vaccine trials on children (below 12) so far and the current idea would be to vaccinate as many adults as possible to develop herd immunity, so they do not spread the disease to children,” said Dr Ravi Kumar, executive body member, Bangalore Paediatric Society, and consultant paediatric neurologist as Aster CMI Hospital.

Another moot point is the definition of a child. While individuals aged above 18 are legally considered adults, some doctors say this cannot be the only criteria.

“Teenagers may be as well-built and have the same physique as an average adult. Hence, it is not always practical to go by age,” Dr Kumar said. But in the absence of permission for clinical trials for children, Dr Kumar said, “Once more data on safety and efficacy emerge from vaccine companies, we can move to vaccinating teenagers and young children.”


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