The national drugs regulator’s subject expert committee (SEC) on Friday recommended that the Covid-19 vaccine Covovax be given an emergency use authorisation for use in children aged 7 to 12, according to people familiar with the matter, paving the way for what will be the third dose available for recipients under 12.
As per protocol, the final approval will be granted by the drugs controller general of India (DCG).
Covovax is the second coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which also produces Covishield.
Covovax is approved for emergency use in children aged 12 and above and is being administered to adolescents aged 14 and above.
Apart from Covovax, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Biological E’s Corbevax vaccine have been approved for use in children aged 6 and above and 5 and above respectively, however government has only expanded coverage so far to children aged 12 and above.
Corbevax is being given to the 12-15 age group, and Covaxin to the 15-18 age group.
Experts say it has been a good idea to vaccine children even though vaccination in babies can be deferred for the time being.
“Children run the risk of bringing home infection and infecting others in the family, especially elderly and those with comorbidities. Therefore, it is important to vaccinate them also. As for babies, I would say, there is no immediate need and cannot be priority at the moment,” said Dr Rahul Nagpal, director, department of paediatrics, Fortis Healthcare.
Serum Institute of India locally manufactures Covovax, a vaccine developed by US-based Novavax Inc.
On December 28 last year, the Drugs Controller General of India approved Covovax for emergency use in adults, the first time the dose was greenlit.
The vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine that delivers a full spike of the Sars-Cov-2 to train the immunity. It is the only vaccine apart from the mRNA platform doses which demonstrate an efficacy of more than 90% against the ancestral Sars-Cov-2 virus discovered in 2020, according to the company.