New Delhi: Amid the severe second wave of Covid-19, the call to vaccinate children has grown. Twitter was flooded with posts Thursday, from youngsters to parents, requesting the government to make provisions for vaccinating children in the 12-17 years age group. More than 10,000 tweets were posted in support of hashtags #SaveKidsFrom3rdWave and #VaccinateIndianKids, urging the government to expedite vaccine trials on children.
The tweetathon was organised by Ayaan Kapoor, a class 11 student at Gurugram’s Shri Ram School.
“When I was watching the news about vaccinations for those above 18, I asked my mother when were kids going to be vaccinated. She said it could take months, or even a year. That is when I thought we needed to do something. I reached out to friends, their parents and spread the word. So many people supported the cause and we got a great response,” Ayaan told ThePrint.
Amidst rising cases of Covid among children in the second surge in the country, many students, teachers, doctors and parents from across the country came out in support of Kapoor’s campaign.
“1yr+ of home confinement. Vaccinate Indian kids to help them cope with life, a life which we lived”, a Twitter user named Manoj Agarwal wrote.
Another Twitter user, Smita Vanam, tagged Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in her tweets and wrote, “Our kids need to have a fighting chance against Covid.”
Ayaan also said that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12 years old spurred him to start the campaign.
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) Thursday cleared Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin trials on children aged between two to 18 years and the phase 2 and 3 trials will be carried out on “525 healthy volunteers”, according to Bharat Biotech.
ZyCoV-D, a vaccine being manufactured by Zydus Cadila, which is hoping to get approval for emergency use authorisation soon, is also being tested on adolescents.
Vulnerable to infection
Kapoor has also reached Bharat Biotech and Pfizer regarding the issue, and hopes the government will consider vaccinating children soon.
“Even though the country is currently facing a vaccine shortage, at least the trials of vaccines on children in India could be expedited,” he said.
In April, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had noted that a far higher number of those in the 0-19 age group were affected during the second coronavirus wave, which could be owing to the opening up of the country from its earlier lockdown mode last year, including the reopening of schools and colleges.
Virologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences, Bengaluru, Dr Ravi said that the Covid-19 third wave will predominantly affect children, as most adults would have been been infected or inoculated by then.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)