Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said the coronavirus vaccines currently being used for immunisation in the country offer substantial protection again COVID-19, and reduce severity of disease, hospitalisation and deaths.
Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Mandaviya said COVID-19 vaccination protects from severe manifestation of disease and improves herd immunity, and is accordingly likely to mitigate the impact COVID-19 may have with any future resurgence.
"Vaccines currently being utilised for immunisation offer substantial protection again COVID-19 besides reducing severity of disease, hospitalization and deaths," the minister said.
Currently, Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Russia's Sputnik V are being used in the country's immunisation programme. While Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine has also been granted emergency use authorisation by the drug regulator, the vaccine is not being administered yet.
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On vaccines for children, Mandaviya said the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has granted permission to Bharat Biotech for phase II/III clinical trials of Covaxin vaccine in 2 to 18 years age group, while Cadila Healthcare was also granted permission for phase III clinical trials of its DNA based in age group of 12 years and above.
"Further, CDSCO has not granted permission to conduct clinical trial of any imported COVID-19 vaccine on children in the country," he said.
Responding to a question on warnings by health experts about probable advent of the third wave of coronavirus in the form of Delta variant, Mandaviya said in Lok Sabha that multiple waves have been noticed across the world during pandemics, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
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"The wave may occur either due to mutations in the virus or due to the available pool of susceptible population, which in turn is also dependent on various pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions for management of the pandemic," he said.
On the question on third wave due to Delta variant affecting children, he said that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant has shown higher transmissibility than other mutant Variants of Concern (VOCs) identified to date.
"There is however no scientific evidence either from India or globally, to show that children get disproportionately infected with COVID-19 including delta variant. Children, if infected, generally remain asymptomatic or exhibit mild symptoms and do not get severe disease," he said.
The health minister said that his ministry has issued specific guidelines and advised states to upgrade health infrastructure with respect to management of paediatric cases.
He said the public health approach and clinical management protocol for Delta variant still remain the same. Five-fold approach of 'test, track, treat, vaccinate and adherence to COVID-Appropriate Behavior (CAB)' remains the strategy for COVID-19 containment.'
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