COVID Task Force chief VK Paul has said that they are awaiting for final certification on Covaxin for children. "Awaiting final certification on Covaxin for children," VK Paul, head of the National COVID Task Force, told CNBC-TV18. He also said that the top priority is to vaccinate all adults and COVID-19 vaccine supply is not an issue now.
Meanwhile, VK Paul on Sunday had said that the government will take a final decision on vaccinating children and adolescents against coronavirus on the basis of overall scientific rationale as well as the supply situation of vaccines available for those below 18 years old.
Paul, who has been playing a key role in the government's efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, also cautioned that even though infections are coming down and the second wave is subsiding, it will not be fair now to say that the worst is over since many countries have seen more than two waves.
Currently, three vaccines -- Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V -- being administered in the country are only for those above 18 years of age. All of them are two-dose vaccines.
Zydus Cadila's indigenously developed needle-free COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D is set to become the first vaccine that will be available in India for those in the age group of 12-18 years. It has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).
"We do know that several countries have introduced vaccination for adolescents (people) and children. We will take a final decision based on the overall scientific rationale and the supply situation of the child licenced vaccines, going forward," Paul told PTI in an interview.
An expert panel of India's central drug authority has recommended granting EUA to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for children and adolescents in the 2-18 years age group with certain conditions.
If approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), it will be the second vaccine after ZyCoV-D to get EUA for use among those below 18 years. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is looking at how ZyCov-D should be positioned for most optimum use.
According to Paul, Covaxin is a part of the adult vaccination programme and how to provision the vaccine, if at all for children, has to be also examined in the totality of the requirements of the vaccination programme. "A pragmatic decision (on vaccination of children and adolescents) can be taken (only) by balancing the supply and the potential eligibility," he said.
While noting it will not be possible now to give a particular timeline on when COVID vaccination will start for children, Paul said, "The preparation for incorporation of Zydus Cadila's vaccine into the vaccination programme is proceeding well, training is already being held. NTAGI advice for the best use of the vaccine is explored. So soon, this will be rolled out".
According to Paul, children are part and parcel of the chains of COVID transmission and are infected in large numbers. At the same time, COVID infections in children are very mild or asymptomatic, and that is one side of the story. On the other side, he said that once there is enough vaccine available that can be used in children, "so why not protect them".
(With inputs from PTI)