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The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), one of the main agencies coordinating the Covid response for India, has called the potential third wave “the ticking timeline.” An increase in Covid cases around the world, particularly Indonesia being the new epicenter of the virus, has put Indian authorities on high alert.

The NDMA released a report as a preparatory response, titled “Preparing for the Third Wave of Covid-19 – Childhood Vulnerability and Recovery”. He looked at mitigation measures to prevent women and children from being the most affected in the event of a third wave.

Here is what the report says: While there is not enough data to substantiate widespread fears that children will be hit harder in the predicted third wave, a major challenge is the lack of an approved vaccine for children in India for the moment.

Citing statistics from the Department of Health and Family Welfare, the report points out that of all children hospitalized due to Covid, 60 to 70% had comorbidities or low immunity. Co-morbidities can include children with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.

On June 27, the government had Recount the Supreme Court that the Covid vaccination for children (12-18 years old) can start in July or August. It did not materialize.

According to Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine could be available for children in India around September. This is when data from phase two and three trials for the age group is expected.

Pfizer, the only vaccine given to children in the world, has not even been approved for adults in India, so it might be difficult to expect it to be available for children.

But the vaccination rate is low in India, with just over 100 million people fully vaccinated, or 7.6% of the population. Children were left out of the equation entirely.

It will have striking ripple effects.

Dr Devi Shetty, who heads the expert committee of doctors set up by the government of Karnataka to prepare for a possible third wave of coronavirus, said in the report that children, especially those under the age of 12 , will be the most affected. Most adults can already be infected or immune (even partially).

With schools reopening in many parts of the country, it is important to ensure that staff and teachers are fully immunized as a priority. And, of course, urgently boosting pediatric medical capacity in anticipation of the threat of an impending third wave.


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