Vaccines for children

#GS3#HEALTHCARE#VACCINATION#COVID19

CONTEXT

  • Recently, the Subject Expert Committee, an advisory committee to the Drugs Controller-General of India (DCGI), has suggested that it grant emergency use authorization (EUA) for Covaxin among children aged 2-18.
  • According to reports, the final decision for the vaccine for children aged 2-18 is undergoing evaluation and experts members will deliberate on this.  The DCGI will hold discussions with the Health Minister, the Prime Minister’s Office, and Bharat Biotech before granting EUA to Covaxin.
  • Earlier this year, the DCGI had granted EUA for Zydus Cedilla vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D for use in children.

How Covaxin for children different than the dose for adults?

  • According to the sources from Bharat Biotech, The Covaxin that will be rolled out for children in India will be of the same product and presentation as the adult vaccine.
  • Bharat Biotech got the approval to carry out trials among children in May. In that direction, they tested the adult version of Covaxin on 525 children, in two doses 28 days apart. 
  • Interim data from the trials, submitted by October, suggested that safety and immunogenicity were studied, and it was found to be safe among children. A longer follow-up will also be done among study participants. Data from Covaxin is not available publicly.

Is there a need for a separate vaccine for children?

  • According to experts, Children need different type of care and treatment in Covid, including Vaccines. 
  • While most vaccines cater to children, it is also necessary to calibrate vaccines for specific use in children when they have first been developed for the adult population, as in the case of COVID-19.
  • It is not just a case of sizing down an adult dosage for children, experts argue. Working on vaccine or drug regimens with children is very challenging.
  • Children have different developmental and physiological differences from adults, and as they grow, they tend to have changing needs, due to hormonal changes
  • That is why, The World Health Organization (WHO),  recommends that clinical trials in children are mandatory to develop age-specific, empirically verified therapies, and interventions to decide the best possible treatments for them. 

Need of covid vaccines in Children

  • Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, remarking  on the value of COVID-19 vaccines for children, says that considering that children under the age of 18 constitute a large proportion of the population (32% globally), it is very much imperative to give them project. Also this will contain the spread of the virus as well. 
  • Protection is urgently needed when the disease risk is high, it says. However, for children, it adds, there is a comparatively low risk of disease. Although they account for one in nine SARS-CoV-2 infections, they constitute only 2% of all hospitalizations.
  • Usually most of the infections in children are mild and they recover fully. Serious illness is very rare, but well-described; this consists of  the inflammatory and potentially deadly situation, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children.
  • Recently, addressing a seminar, Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, said, “Children have the same percentage of antibody exposure that adults have. 

Way Ahead

  • Government must take measures to make covid 19 vaccines available to children. Before that that vaccines must be passed by multiple trials. 

Source: The Hindu.

 

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