The medical community in Bangaluru as in other parts of the country is calling for safer and more effective pediatric drugs to be made available before the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic. This, as they expected the children to be the most vulnerable group in the third wave. It should be noted that schools, especially small classes, have been closed since the outbreak began in March 2020. Currently in India, ZyCoV-D and Coxinxin (used for adults) are subject to cases of children over the age of 12. In some countries such as the United States, Canada and Singapore, vaccines such as Pfizer use in children over 12 years of age.
“The third wave of the virus will affect children of all ages, but it has the potential to cause significant anxiety in children and adolescents respectively,” said Dr Srikanta JT, Consultant – Pediatric Pulmonology, at Aster CMI Hospital. Similarly, Dr Mayuri Yeole, Liaison Coordinator, Paediatrics, Apollo Hospitals, said vaccination was important not only for the immune system but also for the well-being of children. He said that the vaccination will not only strengthen the immune system but also make it easier to go to school and visit. It will help them to survive in their childhood, and not be trapped inside four walls. He added saying that like a flu vaccine, it seems important to have a COVID-19 vaccine for children – although it may protect children from getting the novel coronavirus, it will help reduce the illness and death we expect by the third peak.
But some experts believe that the government should now focus on vaccinating 18 or more people initially due to a shortage of large drugs, as they see children as less likely to develop serious illnesses. Dr Anand Lakhsman, CEO of Address Health (a company that focuses on child health care and is responsible for schools) said there was no evidence that the third phase would have a significant impact on children.
While the combined pan-India data on child mortality due to COVID-19 is not available, according to Karnataka government data, 105 people in the age group 1-19 (including 18+ years) have died as a result of COVID-19. The mortality rate is less than 0.1% in the age group stated until April 18, according to a recent report from the Karnataka War Room. In Mumbai, according to official records as of May 19, the death toll between 0-19 years of age was 52, compared to the total death toll of COVID-19 of 14,409. In the US, as of March 27, 238 children who had died of COVID-19 accounted for 0.04% of all COVID-19 deaths in the country. He said that usually, transient children have chronic illnesses and are already at risk. Globally, the mortality rate and even child labor are very low.
He pointed out that the idea that children are now safe from disease due to school closures may not be at all. “We need scientific proof. To date, Delhi is the only state that can conduct a serosurvey (August 2020) including children over the age of 12. It found that infection in children was slightly higher but statistically less significant compared with adults. Dr Anand explained saying that it should be noted that the serosurvey detects the presence of antibodies and not the virus. He also said that therefore, it means that children were exposed to the virus at the same rate but were less exposed.
Dr Anand said that the widespread variability of the virus in the second wave is highly contagious and that it does not kill as much as the natural progression of any virus. He pointed out that it is natural for the number of children to be infected and diagnosed to increase. However, that did not lead to a significant increase in hospital admissions.
Instead of prioritizing childhood immunizations over people over the age of 18, Dr Anand suggested that the government should focus on the most stressful areas of malnutrition, vaccination against basic childhood diseases. “We cannot compare ourselves to the West where many areas have high levels of vaccines while our children are dying from malnutrition and vaccination,” said Dr Anand.
Similarly, Dr Asha Benakappa, a professor and veteran pediatrician, said, At the moment, we have an unnecessary shock [in relation to children] when we have only vaccinated only 3% of the population. We need to focus on key employees, the group over the age of 60, and for people with serious problems to be prioritized. ”He added,“ There is no urgency to vaccinate children because they do not usually have serious illnesses. Another reason is that their immune system is developing. They are also given live vaccines for other diseases such as MMR, chickenpox and H1N1. Therefore, unlike older people, their immune system is very active. ”
Instead, he said, the concept of ‘cocooning’ should be followed. He explained saying that if they do not vaccinate parents first, there will be difficulties in treating children. Therefore, if we can protect parents, to a large extent, we can naturally prevent infection in children.
Another community physician, Dr Edmond Fernandes, said, “The government should consider vaccinating citizens aged 18-70 first, and complete vaccination in major cities and the second phase first before November. Focusing on children may wait as the routes continue, but now it should be concentrated in the vicinity of three major cities to avoid being devastated by the epidemic. ”