The country’s two top panels on Covid vaccination will get cracking in the coming week. They will be making key recommendations that will help the government firm up crucial decisions -- which vaccine is to be administered to children above 15; which vaccine will be the booster dose; and what will be the gap between the last dose and the ‘precautionary’ dose for the elderly.
For children, the toss-up is essentially between Covaxin and Zydus Cadila, though two more vaccinations are lined up. Till now, the understanding is that both will be used, a media report said.
The data on trials in the 12+ age group and the 15 to 18 eligible criteria is, however, still not in the public domain and has to be reviewed by experts.
More important, taking a holistic view, the expert panels will have to ensure that the vaccination process for children and the elderly do not interrupt the ongoing process for administering the first and second dose to adults.
Some health officials were cited as saying by News 18 that studies undertaken globally have shown that it is always better to have a booster dose different from the one that was primarily administered.
Another media report indicates that Bharat Biotech has sought permission from India’s drug regulator to conduct clinical trials for evaluating the efficacy of a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin.
The indigenous vaccine maker proposes to conduct clinical trials for Covaxin’s booster shot on 5,000 healthy volunteers, keeping a gap of six months between the second and third dose.
The report in News 18 also said that recently Adar Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India had also sought the approval of the drug regulator to administer Covishield as a booster dose; the institute felt that it has adequate stock and can meet the demand for a booster shot, but the request was denied.
Sources were cited as saying that the expert panel of the DCGI, which reviewed Serum institute’s application, asked the firm to submit local clinical trial data to justify the request for boosters.
Moreover, SII had presented immunogenicity data of only 75 subjects from the Britain study. All this is a fallout of PM Modi’s surprise announcement that India would start giving the third “precautionary dose” to healthcare and frontline workers and those above 60 with comorbidities from January 10. Also on the anvil is vaccination for children aged 15-18 from January 3.
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