Covid vaccines for kids below 12 get DCGI nod: All you need to know

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted emergency use authorisation to two Covid-19 vaccines — Biological E’s Corbevax and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin  for children under the age of 12 years. The DCGI also granted EUA to Gujarat-based Zydus Cadila’s two-dose Covid vaccine for the 12 years and above population. 

The DCGI’s decision is significant as it comes at a time when children are returning to school for the first time in over two years. With this, children under the age of 12 may soon be able to receive a dose of the vaccine for the first time. 

At a meeting reviewing the Covid situation in India on Wednesday, PM Narendra Modi said the government’s priority is to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest with special campaigns needed in schools.

So does this mean children below the age of 12 can get the vaccine now?

Not yet. For this cohort to begin receiving the vaccine, the regulatory approval and data will have to be placed before three government expert bodies — the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), which provides guidance to the government on vaccination by undertaking technical reviews of scientific evidence; the Covid-19 Working Group and Standing Technical Sub-Committee and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), which will make a final recommendation to the health ministry. 

The final decision is expected in the next few days. 

Who can get the vaccines?

While the national drug regulator has granted emergency use authorisation to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for the age group 6-12, Biological E’s Corbevax, if approved, will be administered on children between the ages of 5 and 12. 

“Covaxin exhibits robust immune responses in children with two doses and six months follow-up, indicating durability of immune responses. Data was presented to the CDSCO Subject Expert Committee and will be published in the weeks to come,” according to Bharat Biotech. 

How many doses will be administered on children?

For the Corbevax vaccine, two doses will be administered with a 28-day gap in between. Meanwhile, for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, two doses are administered with a 28-40 day gap in between. 

Zydus Cadila’s two-dose vaccine was granted EUA for the 12 years and above population, while the three-dose version of ZyCoV-D is being used in the national vaccination drive for the adult population. This is the first Covid-19 vaccine built on a DNA platform, and has been approved for commercial use. 

What vaccines are being administered on children at the moment?

The Covid-19 vaccination drive for children in the age-group 15-18 years began in January this year with ‘Covaxin’. In February, the DCGI granted Corbevax emergency use authorisation for children between 12-14 years. 

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