India’s crossing of a landmark 75 crore doses with the daily average vaccination rate inching close to 75 lakh doses in September is a remarkable achievement. Still a long distance away from the ambitious target to vaccinate all adults by the end of the year, there is hope now that a sizable section of this demographic will still be covered. The looming challenge in the days ahead is to plan for vaccinating India’s children, whose education is suffering because schools are unable to confidently reopen.
Nevertheless, the plan to vaccinate children over 12 with comorbidities is a good start. The increasing proportion of children among those infected with Covid could also be a result of adult vaccination giving the virus less legroom in that demographic. With a highly contagious and potent variant like Delta it makes sense for the government to start aiming for vaccinating all children too. But this plan will also require more vaccines to be approved for children.
So far, ZyCov-D has been approved, and clearance for Covaxin is reportedly in the pipeline. But neither is producing enough vaccines yet to meet the needs of this huge demographic. This is where the trials on Corbevax and Covovax for children could make a huge difference. The former has secured Rs.1,500 crore funding from GoI and the latter is backed by vaccine heavyweight SII. Meanwhile, if Covaxin does achieve a long overdue significant rise in production, it could prove a big bonus for India’s vaccination programme.
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