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Covid: India to begin vaccine trials for 7 to 11-year-olds

India granted approval to its largest vaccine manufacturer to conduct Covid-19 trials on children aged between seven and 11 years, as the country posted the lowest daily increase in cases in over six months.

India’s drug regulator announced that Tuesday that it has allowed vaccine maker Serum Institute (SII) to enrol kids between seven to eleven years of age for its trial of US drugmaker Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine.

“After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended for allowing enrolment of subjects of 7 to 11 years of age group as per the protocol,” a subject expert panel of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation told media outlets in a briefing.

Novavax has not received authorisation in India yet, however, SII is already conducting trials on children aged 12-17 age group and has presented safety data for an initial 100 participants. So far, only drugmaker Zydus Cadila’s DNA Covid-19 vaccine has received emergency use approval in India to be used in adults and children aged 12 years and above.

However, the company’s CEO Adar Poonawalla recently said he hopes the vaccine will be approved for adults by October and for children below 18 in early 2022.

SII, considered the world’s largest vaccine maker, is also producing Covishield for India, a locally manufactured version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The company’s domestically produced version of Novavax will be labelled Covovax.

India’s Covid situation has been improving in recent weeks, with the country posting an increase of just 18,000 cases on Monday — the lowest since 10 March. The gradual decline has also pushed its total number of active cases below 300,000 for the first time in six months.

However, there’s a looming fear of a prospective third wave as the country tries to immunise its unjabbed population. India has so far administered 870 million doses immunising over 16 per cent of its massive 1.4 billion population with 46 per cent with one dose.

Additional reporting by agencies

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