India is yet to approve a coronavirus vaccine as trials are under different stages of finalisation. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan assured that India may be able to start the Covid-19 vaccination drive as early as January. But when will the vaccines be available for children?
Vaccine manufacturers believe that progress on paediatric versions of the coronavirus vaccine is not far behind, Business Standard reported quoting sources.
“Once the immunisation programme starts and one can observe the vaccines in use on a mass-scale, the safety of these investigational products would be established beyond doubt. It is around the middle of the next year, that one would plan to start clinical trials for children,” an expert told the publication.
Six vaccines — by Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Gennova, Oxford, Sputnik V, and Biological E Ltd — are undergoing clinical trials in India out of which four are being developed in the country.
The US recently cleared the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and is set to roll out thousands of doses soon alongside the Pfizer vaccine authorised for people aged 16 and older. Meanwhile, Moderna began enrolling study participants aged 12 to 17 this month and will track them for a year. Testing in children younger than 12 is expected to start in early 2021.
A paediatric vaccine may be ready by the end of 2021, an industry expert told the publication. “Work on paediatric vaccine candidates should start around July or so. Global majors like Pfizer-BioNTech have started trials on subjects aged 12 years and above already,” he said.
Moderna’s vaccine has not yet been studied in children or pregnant women. No vaccine can be widely given to children until it has been tested in them. Vaccines meant for both adults and children are generally tested first in adults to help make sure they are safe for pediatric trials.
Even though children usually don't get very sick from Covid-19, they can spread the virus to others, said Dr Robert Frenck, who is the lead researcher for Pfizer's study in kids at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
(With agency inputs)