Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday urged the centre to procure the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine "asap" to inoculate children in the national capital and across the country.
"We should procure this vaccine asap (as soon as possible) for our children," he tweeted.
The appeal came after sources told news agency PTI Wednesday the US pharma giant and the centre have held a series of meetings to fast-track approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The vaccine, Pfizer told the government, has been proven suitable for children over the age of 12. It has been cleared for use on 12-15 year old children in the United States and Canada.
We shud procure this vaccine asap for our children https://t.co/uObqQDmpn8— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 27, 2021
None of the vaccines approved for use in India - Sputnik V, Covishield or Covaxin- have been cleared for use on those below 18, although the latter is expected to begin trials for the 2-18 age group.
Pfizer is willing to roll out five crore doses between July and October - if it receives regulatory relaxations, including indemnification, or protection from claims in case of adverse events.
Some experts fear children and young adults could be the target of a third wave of infections.
Those below 18 accounted for fewer than 10 per cent of new cases in India this month, but week-by-week numbers did show a small (but steady) increase.
AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria has played down such fears; last week he said there is no indication, at this stage, that children will be severely, or more, affected during the third wave.
Also last week, Mr Kejriwal was criticised for tweeting about a "Singapore variant" that he claimed "is said to be extremely dangerous for children".
Delhi earlier reached out to Pfizer to strike a deal to supply its vaccine. The company refused to negotiate, citing internal policy that said it would only deal with central governments.
Vaccine supplies have become a sore subject in India, with several states insisting they do not have enough doses to vaccinate both age groups - 18-44 and 45+. The centre, however, insists they do.
This back-and-forth has slowed vaccinations, particularly for the former age group, which government data says accounts for nearly half of all new Covid cases in the country this month.
Delhi's reach-out to Pfizer was to offset what states say is the supply-demand mismatch.
On Wednesday Mr Kejriwal urged the centre "do its job" and provide state governments with enough vaccine doses to break the second wave of cases.
He warned the centre states could not compete among themselves to buy doses - any more than being forced to buy individual stores of weapons and ammunition in case of an attack by Pakistan.
Delhi, like the rest of the country, has been battered by the second Covid wave, at the peak of which it was recording close to 30,000 new cases per day and a positivity rate of 35 per cent.
Those numbers have dropped dramatically since; on Wednesday evening it reported fewer than 1,500 new cases and a positivity rate of 1.9 per cent.
The city remains under lockdown, though, with Mr Kejriwal warning that any laxity at this stage could trigger a fresh wave of infections that the healthcare system cannot deal with.
With input from PTI