Vax makers assure ample COVID shots for kids, urge govt to avoid wastage of jabs

Vax makers assure ample COVID shots for kids, urge govt to avoid wastage of jabs

While India is all set to roll out vaccination for children below 12 years of age, Indian vaccine manufacturers have said there are ample doses for the targeted population.

(representational image) (representational image)

While India is all set to roll out vaccination for children below 12 years of age, Indian vaccine manufacturers have said there are ample doses for the targeted population. As several states and private hospitals have recently complained about shortage of Covaxin and Corbevax shots for 12-15 years, the government is increasing options in the basket of COVID-19 vaccines for younger age.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), a government panel on Friday, approved Serum Institute of India's Covovax COVID-19 vaccine for the age group 12-17. India's drug regulator had approved Covovax for restricted use in emergency situations in adults on December 28 last year and in the 12-17 age group, subject to certain conditions, on March 9.

Vaccine makers have said that they are committed to supply the required doses. “To date, Biological E. Limited has manufactured 30 crore doses of corbevax and have already supplied nearly 10 crore doses to the Government of India.  Currently, over 3 crore doses of corbevax have been administered in children between 12-15 years of age,” Mahima Datla, Managing Director, Biological E. Limited, said.  

Biological E. Limited’s, Corbevax on Tuesday received a nod from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use authorisation for the 5-12-year age group. Drug regulator also granted approval to Cadila for its ZyCoV-D two dose inoculation schedule 28 days apart in the 5-12 age group. Earlier, ZyCoV-D was approved in a three-dose regimen on day 0, day 28 and day 56.

Similarly, India’s drug regulator also granted Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, the whole-virion inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the emergency use approval in children 6-12 years of age. The Hyderabad-based company said that Covaxin is formulated uniquely such that the same dosage can be administered to adults and children alike.  

“Fresh stocks of Covaxin are available and ready for supplies. Bharat Biotech has readily available more than 50 million doses of Covaxin in vials, and more than 200 million doses as drug substance. Additional production capacity is also available to meet product demand,” Bharat Biotech said in a statement.  However, the Hyderabad based company earlier said that it temporarily suspending manufacture of Covaxin for export purposes.

Public health experts have called for a quick implementation of the special campaign of COVID-19 vaccination for children considering the rise in COVID-19 cases again and a sizeable number of the population being kids.

“We have seen many reports of COVID-19 cases among children. Children can be the potential hotspots for transmission.  Vaccination campaigns must begin now for children similar to the vaccination drive for adults. Now we have COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 years and above which will help the younger children get back to school safely and bring more relief to parents and school administration,” Dr Pramod Jog, a Pune-based senior pediatrician, said.

COVID-19 vaccination for the age group 12-14 years was started on 16 March, 2022. So far, more around than 2.90 crores adolescents have been administered with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, the COVID-19 precaution dose administration for age group 18-59 years also started from 10th April, 2022 onwards. The government is yet to decide starting of vaccination of kids below 12 years of age.  

“Though COVID-19 in children is comparatively less severe, around 11 per cent of COVID-19 cases during the second wave were among children younger than 10 years of age. There were cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome and long covid cases in our state. COVID-19 should never be taken lightly in younger children,” said Jog.

Meanwhile, the private sector is urging the government to find out ways to avoid wastage of COVID-19 vaccines. Many of them are even providing vaccines for free.

“Private hospitals did wonderfully well during April-June. Subsequently the demand went down and, by November, we had unused stock which was close to expiry. We took the matter to government and we were told that government will channel this stock for export but nothing happened at state level. We had to discard or provide to the population free of cost,” said Dr Girdhar Gyani, Director-General, Association of Healthcare Providers (India) (AHPI), a body that represents the majority of healthcare providers in India.

“We still have some stock which we can use for booster,” he said.

Adar Poonawalla, SII's CEO, recently urged the government to reduce the gap between booster doses from 9 months to 6 months. He said that he is ready to offer the vaccines for free to avoid wastage. SII has also massively slashed the price from Rs 600 to Rs 225 a dose in order to increase the uptake of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield.  

Published on: Apr 29, 2022, 7:04 PM IST
Posted by: Aparna Banerjea, Apr 29, 2022, 7:01 PM IST