- Arvind Kejriwal argued it can "come as a third wave" in India
- He further said the strain could prove dangerous for children
- Most nations are yet to approve any vaccine for the use of children
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said a new Covid variant detected in Singapore is proving dangerous for children. Arguing that it can "come as a third wave" in India, he suggested that the Centre take immediate measures, including suspension of flights to and from Singapore.
"The new form of Corona that came to Singapore is said to be extremely dangerous for children, in India it may come as a third wave. My appeal to the central government: 1. Air services with Singapore to be cancelled with immediate effect 2. Vaccine options should be worked out for children too," Mr Kejriwal said in a Hindi tweet.
Later in the evening, the Singapore High Commission tweeted:
There is no truth in the assertion that there is a new COVID strain in Singapore. Phylogenetic testing has shown that the B.1.617.2 variant is the prevalent strain in many of the COVID cases, including in children, in recent weeks in Singapore.https://t.co/uz0mNPNxlEhttps://t.co/Vyj7gyyzvJ— Singapore in India (@SGinIndia) May 18, 2021
The Delhi Chief Minister's tweet comes amid concerns being raised over a third wave, which many experts said is likely to target children. The first wave has affected the elderly the most, and the younger people have been infected in the second wave, the experts reasoned.
"There is a possibility that the third wave virus will predominantly target the children, mainly because adults are either infected or immunised," cardiac surgeon and chief of Narayana Health, Dr Devi Shetty has told NDTV.
The government's Principal Scientific Adviser K Vijay Raghavan has warned that a third wave is "inevitable" and suggested that vaccines need to be "updated" to deal with the emerging strains.
"Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves," he said. A day later, he, however added if correct measures are taken now, the country might dodge it.
Most nations are yet to approve any vaccine for the use of children, Last week, the US authorised Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged between 12 years and 15 years. Canada has also allowed vaccination of children aged 12 years and up.
On May 13, India gave clearance for Covaxin trials on children aged between two years and 18 years. Most states, including Delhi, though, are grappling with a vaccine shortage. Covaxin stocks in Delhi for the 18-44-year age group was exhausted last week.
The number of adults vaccinated so far is also minuscule – data shows at the current rate, vaccinating 80 per cent of the adult population will take more than three years. Vaccinating all adults has become important in view of a third wave – full immunisation of 80 per cent is expected to bring herd immunity.
A few states, including Maharashtra and Karnataka are already preparing for the third wave. Maharashtra is setting up child Covid centres and a paediatric task force.
"The third wave could be deadly for small children below 18. Children need different ventilator beds and other medical equipment," Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said.
Karnataka is also setting up a task force, which will be chaired by Dr Devi Shetty, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has said.
The second wave has left the country's healthcare system in a shambles, with hospitals scrambling for oxygen and patients and their families appealing for help in social media and crematoriums overflowing into parking lots.
The damage in rural areas is suspected to have been substantial, with bodies of suspected Covid patients found flowing down river Ganga last week.