The government has decided to vaccinate children against Covid-19 and a senior epidemiologist at AIIMS, a principal investigator of Covaxin trials for adults and children at the institute has called out the decision ‘unscientific’.
Dr Sanjay K Rai, also the president of the Indian Public Health Association, stated that the data from the countries that have already begun vaccinating children against Covid-19 should be analyzed before implementing it in India.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced three groundbreaking decisions related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. PM announced vaccination for children aged 15-18 from January 3, ‘precaution dose’ for healthcare and frontline workers from January 10 and a ‘precaution dose’ for senior citizens suffering from co-morbidities on the advice of doctors.
Dr Rai tagging Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, “I am a great fan of PM Modi for his selfless service to the nation and taking right decisions at right time. But I am completely disappointed with his unscientific decision on children vaccination.”
He further added that there should be a clear-cut objective of any intervention. The objective is to either prevent coronavirus infection or severity or death.
“But according to whatever knowledge we have about vaccines, they are unable to make a significant dent in the infection. In some countries, people are getting infected even after taking booster shots.”
“Also, 50,000 breakthrough infections are being reported per day in the UK. So this proves that vaccination is not preventing coronavirus infection but vaccines are effective in preventing severity and death,” Dr Rai told PTI.
He said mortality due to COVID-19 in susceptible populations is around 1.5 per cent, which means 15,000 deaths per million population.
“Through vaccination, we can prevent 80-90 per cent of these deaths, which means that 13,000 to 14,000 deaths per million (population) can be prevented,” he added.
Serious adverse events following immunisation are between 10 to 15 per million population, Rai said.
“So, if you do the risk and benefit analysis in adults, it is a huge benefit,” he said.
“In this section (children), 15,000 (people) are not dying and keeping in mind the adverse effects also, if you do the risk and benefit analysis, then the risk is more than the benefits based on the available data,” Rai explained.
“Both the objectives are not being fulfilled by initiating vaccination among children,” he said.
A few countries, including America, have started vaccinating children four-five months ago. The data of these nations should be analysed before initiating Covid vaccination for children, he added.