Bharat Biotech is expected to start paediatric trials of Covaxin COVID-19 vaccine from June, says Dr Raches Ella, the company’s Business Development and International Advocacy Head. During a virtual conversation with members of the FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), Hyderabad, Dr Ella confirmed that they would be boosting the manufacturing capacity of Covaxin to 700 million doses by the end of this year.
“Now our focus is on ramping up our manufacturing capacity. Kids vaccine trials of Bharat Biotech may get the license in the third quarter of this year,” he said. The Drugs Controller General of India gave permission for conducting Phase II and III trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in 2-18 age group, with trials expected to being in the next 10 to 12 days.
Dr Amit Gupta, clinical director, newborn service, Oxford, told India Today TV that there was little evidence to suggest that the new mutant was causing severe infections in children. “It’s premature to say that COVID-19 cases will explode in children and that we will have our paediatric care units filled up. We get confused between proportions and absolute cases. The proportion of COVID-19 among kids is high because the prevalence is high.”
India looking to vaccinate children doesn’t come as a surprise as a number of countries have taken the call.
The UAE gave the green light to Pfizer for children aged between 12-15 years, as it looks to welcome children back to schools from the next academic year. A spokesman for the UAE’s health sector said that despite the low number of positive cases among children, vaccination is very important because students are gradually going back to face-to-face (learning in) schools next year. He said the vaccination will help the country feel safe and protect the health and wellness of the children.
Alberta Bourla, chairman and CEO, Pfizer, said the company shares the urgency to expand the authorization of the vaccine to use in the younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages 12 and 15. “We plan to submit these data to FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.”
Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog, said that the seropositivity rate between 10-17 years is roughly the same as between 30-40 and children can also spread the infection. “Whenever children contracted the infection then always symptoms are minimal, very mild disease or they are asymptomatic and because it is mild the mortality is very, very less in them,” he said. “Protecting children from infection is equally important so that they do not become part of the transmission chain.”