CHENNAI: With children and teenagers being reportedly more vulnerable to the Delta variant of Covid, public health experts say vaccinating children must be prioritised and related trials should be fast-tracked.
Out of the 554 samples tested for genomic sequencing by the State Health Department to identify the Delta strain, 386 were found to have been infected by the variant. Among the 386, 86 persons (22 per cent) were below 18 years of age.
As the schools may reopen in the coming months, inoculating children at the earliest becomes all the more crucial, say experts.
“There is no data that indicate that the vaccines may harm children. Certain vaccines that may not be completely safe for kids, should alone be evaluated,” infectious diseases specialist Dr Subramanian Swaminathan said.
The AIIMS is now conducting Covaxin trials for those below 18 years. However, experts say that it would take several months for the results to come. Further, the Serum Institute of India is also expected to soon begin clinical trials of Novavax dose for paediatric age groups.
A few studies have highlighted that China’s Sinovac vaccine is effective for children, while Pfizer too was considered safe for teenage group, and Moderna has got necessary approval as well.
“In India, a vaccine approved for children may only be ready by December. Another option is importing the vaccines that is needed for them,” experts added.
On the other hand, the State government is ramping up its paediatric facilities ahead of a possible third wave. Former Director of Public Health Dr K Kolandasamy said that Covaxin is a ‘killed’ virus vaccine similar to the ones given for Rabies and Swine Flu.
“Since the Coronavirus family does not affect children overall, the vaccine must be safe for them and we hope to get positive results. Those age between 15 and 17 can be inoculated first so that higher secondary classes can get a go-ahead. We must also begin vaccination of pregnant women and the attenders,” he added.