Johnson & Johnson has applied for permission to conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials in India on children in the 12-17 age group.
In a brief statement released today, the American pharma giant said it had submitted its application on Tuesday, and that it is "imperative" to ensure all sections of the population, including children, are vaccinated against the coronavirus as quickly as possible to stop the virus.
"To ultimately achieve herd immunity it is imperative that COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials continue to move forward in this population, and we remain deeply committed to the critical work needed to make our COVID-19 vaccine equitably accessible for all age groups," the statement read.
The company has already received EUA, or emergency use approval, for its single-dose vaccine, which will be supplied via an agreement with Hyderabad-based Biological E. Limited.
Studies have shown the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has 66 per cent efficacy in preventing moderate to severe illness due to Covid and 85 per cent efficacy against severe cases.
On Thursday Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said Covid vaccines for children would be available "very soon".
He pointed to two other trials - being conducted by Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila - are already underway, and that these results are due next month.
Last month the Indian drug regulator's SEC, recommended permission also be given to the Serum Institute to conduct Phase II / III trials of Covovax on 920 children aged between two and 17.
Also last month, Dr Randeep Guleria, the chief of Delhi's prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told NDTV that vaccines for children could be made available by September. He said vaccinations for children would "be a big boost (for) breaking chain of transmission".
Clinical trials focusing on vaccine safety and efficacy for children have been highlighted in recent weeks and months, amid fears that future waves of infection may target those below 18.
That concern has been amplified as schools and colleges across the country re-open.
Several states have begun scaling up paediatric infrastructure, including increasing the number of hospital beds, and stocking up on medicines and medical oxygen.
Health administrators have taken heed of trends in the United States, where a record number of children have been hospitalised as the 'delta' variant surges through unvaccinated populations.