The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that COVID-19 vaccine trials for those aged below 18 years are near completion. In a submission, the government said that a policy will be formulated and implemented by the Centre for vaccination of children as expeditiously as possible after grant of requisite permissions by the body of experts. The division bench of Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said the whole country was waiting for the vaccination of children.
Chetan Sharma, Additional Solicitor General, had earlier told the court that Zydus Cadila has concluded its trial for those aged between 12-18 years. He said that subject to statutory provisions, the same may be available in the near future for the children. The government said the Drug Controller General of India has permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trial on health volunteers between 2-18 years of age for the Covaxin vaccine.
The court declined to make the process time-bound, saying there cannot be a time limit for research. “They are saying trials are on and it is on the verge of completion. You want a time bound schedule? Everybody is in a hurry. Everybody is for the vaccine but a foolproof trial should be there, otherwise it will be a disaster.”
The petitioners have argued that the second COVID wave has affected children in India far more than it did in the first wave of 2020. “The respondents (authorities) should be mindful that the virulence and spread of the infection under the second wave has been far more in 2021 than it was in the first wave. Thus, news reports based on advice of medical doctors, virologists, who predict that a third wave would be more virulent for children should not be ignored.”
Also Read: Government drafts “liberal” rules for drones
It pointed out that other countries like the US and Canada have already started administrating appropriate dose of COVID vaccine to children. The petition said authorities were ignoring the international and national medical data and opinion, which is clear that vaccinating children and their caregivers as a priority sector is an essential component for breaking the chain of coronavirus transmission.