Tuesday, 17 May, 2022

Covaxin: India approves two Covid vaccines for children under 12

India has approved two homegrown vaccines for children under the age of 12 amid a slight rise in Covid cases.

Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech, has been granted emergency use permission for the six-12 age group, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.

It is already administered to children aged 12-18, and adults.

Two other vaccines have also been given emergency approval - Corbevax for children aged five-12; and Zydus's two-dose jab for children above 12.

Corbevax is also currently being administered to children in the 12-14 age group.

Should India be bracing for a fourth Covid wave?
The emergency-use nod doesn't mean India will immediately start vaccinating children younger than 12 - that can only begin once the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation gives a green signal.

India has so far administered over 1.87 billion doses since it began Covid vaccinations in January 2021.

The country has recorded a small rise in new Covid cases over the past week, with the capital Delhi accounting for almost half of the 2,500 new infections on Tuesday.

About 80% of eligible adults have been fully vaccinated and more than 99% have received at least one jab so far.

Since 10 January, India has also been administering booster shots to healthcare and frontline workers, and those above 60 with comorbidities.

It also started vaccinating 15-18-year-olds the same month, and later expanded the drive to include children over the age of 12.

India has approved nine Covid vaccines, five of which have been locally made. Only two have been widely used.

What vaccines had India approved before this?
India is currently using four vaccines - Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V and Corbevax - for its drive. Of these, Covishield accounts for over 81% of the doses given so far.

In February the government had granted emergency use permission to Sputnik Light, a component of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, which India had approved last year.

The Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, had generated some controversy initially after being rolled out before the final trial data had been released. But scientists say its benefits have now been demonstrated.

It uses a cold-type virus, engineered to be harmless, as a carrier to deliver a small fragment of the coronavirus to the body. After being vaccinated, the body starts to produce antibodies especially tailored to the virus.