English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

AIIMS, Delhi starts clinical trials of Covaxin in children to counter third Covid-wave

AIIMS, Delhi starts clinical trials of Covaxin in children to counter third Covid-wave

The All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in Delhi has started clinical trials of homegrown Covid vaccine Covaxin in children from today (June 7) amid concerns by experts that kids could be affected if a third coronavirus wave hits the country.

AIIMS is screening children between ages 12 and 18 years for the clinical trials after getting permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI).

Vaccine trials for children from 2 to 18 years are also being carried out at AIIMS Patna and Meditrina Institute of Medical Sciences Nagpur.

“Children in the 12 to 18 years age group are being given shots first. We will then proceed with the 6 to 12 years age category before inoculating children in the 2 to 6 years age bracket," said AIIMS Patna superintendent and the principal trial investigator Dr CM Singh.

Also read:  Serum Institute of India gets preliminary nod to make Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccine

Dr Singh said before administering the vaccine to children, they will conduct real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to check them for COVID-19 antibodies and test them for pre-existing diseases besides conducting physical examination.

 So far, 10 children have got the first dose of the indigenously developed anti-COVID jab. They are due to get the second dose in 28 days. The hospital aims to give the trial dose of Covaxin to at least 100 children.

The clinical trial for Bharat Biotech's COVID vaccine 'Covaxin' began on Sunday on children in the age group of 12-18 years in Maharashtra’s Nagpur with 41 children being selected for this exercise.

Also read:  PM lauds India’s scientists for working as fast as western peers to develop Covid vaccines

This is the first time in India when a COVID-19 vaccine will be tested on children. In these trials, children will be administered two COVID vaccine shots on day 0 and day 28.  Covaxin trial will be conducted in 525 healthy volunteers at different sites across the country. The trial will study the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in children.

Looking ahead

A National Expert Group has been formed to review COVID-19 infections in children and approach the pandemic in a renewed way, to strengthen the nation’s preparedness, the  government’s top health adviser for Covid-19, Dr VK Paul said last week.

“COVID-19 in children is often asymptomatic and rarely requires hospitalization. However, changes in epidemiological dynamics or viral behaviour can change the situation and increase prevalence of infection. No undue burden has been placed on paediatric care infrastructure so far. However, it is possible that 2% – 3% of children who get infected may need hospitalization,” Dr Paul said.

“Though treatment of children who contract Covid-19 is not difficult, it has to be timely,” Dr. Paul explained.

Global picture

US pharma giant Pfizer is one of a number of drug companies testing their Covid vaccines on children. The aim of vaccinating older children would be to keep schools open, reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community and protect vulnerable children with conditions which put them at increased risk.

According to a BBC report there is a scientific question – will vaccinating children save lives? – which is complex as the answer may vary from country to country. There is also a moral and ethical dimension if doses destined for children would save more lives if they were given to health workers and vulnerable adults in other countries. 

A study of seven countries published in the reputed British medical journal The Lancet estimated that fewer than two out of every million children died with Covid during the pandemic.

"Fortunately one of the few good things about this pandemic is children are very rarely seriously affected by this infection," BBC cited Prof Adam Finn, who sits on the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, as saying.