In two-to-three months from now, experts in India will know if Bharat Biotech's Covaxin works on children as young as two. The process of testing the vaccine's efficacy against Covid has begun, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, has said.
"Bharat Biotech is looking at vaccinating children of 2 years to 18 years. It has already started...a number of children have already been vaccinated," Dr Guleria told NDTV.
"Over the next 2-3 months we should be able to say whether these vaccines work in children even as young as two years old. And then they should get regulatory approval. Pfizer already has the regulatory approval but for a little older age group," he said.
AIIMS Delhi and Patna have already begun recruiting and holding trials on children for a Covid vaccine.
Dr Guleria also said that a significant number of children who came to be recruited for the trials already had antibodies in them, considerably improving their chances in the next potential upsurge of infections.
Current data, according to Dr Guleria, still suggests that mortality is higher in the elderly and in those with co-morbidities as compared to children. The focus, he insists, must firmly remain on this category.
"If you look at even vaccine recruitment data and some data published by us as part of the trial, a significant number of children already had antibodies in them, although there was no evidence of infection," Dr Guleria told NDTV.
"Almost 50-60 per cent of those who came for trials couldn't be recruited because they had antibodies...What this suggests is that they have a good amount of immunity. This worry that 'the next wave may affect them' may not be correct," Dr Guleria said.
Referring to the emergence of Delta Plus as a Covid variant of concern, the veteran doctor said the number of cases currently was too few to come to a conclusion over its significance in terms of severity of disease, mortality, or the effect of antibodies.
He, however, emphasised vigilance so that the country is not caught off-guard as the virus mutates.
"We shouldn't be lagging behind in terms of actions we need to take in case this variant becomes more infectious and starts spreading," he said.