WHO issues advice on child Covid vaccination, asks nations to help cover low-vax regions first

Children at low risk of severe Covid-19: WHO

WHO issues advice on child Covid vaccination, asks nations to help cover low-vax regions first

Photo for representation. File photo

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24

With several countries rushing to expand Covid-19 vaccination to cover children, the World Health Organisation on Wednesday said countries should prioritise global sharing of vaccines to cover low inoculation nations before proceeding to vaccinate children.

“As a matter of global equity, as long as many parts of the world are facing extreme vaccine shortages, countries that have achieved high vaccine coverage in their high-risk populations should prioritise global sharing of Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility before proceeding to vaccination of children and adolescents who are at low risk for severe disease,” the WHO said in an interim statement on the issue of child Covid vaccinations today.

The WHO has not yet approved any Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children although it has included seven vaccines, including Covaxin in the EUL list for adults.

“WHO, with support of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and its Covid-19 Vaccines Working Group, is reviewing the emerging evidence on the need for and timing of vaccinating children and adolescents with the currently available Covid-19 vaccines which have received Emergency Use Listing (EUL). SAGE is continuously reviewing the literature and has reached out to vaccine manufacturers, researchers and Member States to obtain the most complete and recent data on the issue,” said the WHO today.

It noted how some countries including the US and India had approved vaccines for use in children.

Pfizer and Moderna’s Covid-19 shots have been approved for use in 12 to 17 year olds. India has given approval to ZycovD, a novel DNA vaccine, for ages 12-17 years but this vaccine has not yet received WHO EUL. 

“Several Covid-19 vaccines are undergoing trials in younger age groups (including as young as 6 months), but results have not yet been published,” WHO said, effectively asking countries to put child Covid vaccinations on hold till the majority world had been vaccinated with the available stocks.

The world body said the greatest burden of severe disease and deaths remains among older persons and those with comorbidities and the global vaccination strategy targets remain the same – 40 per cent of each country’s population by end of 2021, and 70 per cent by mid-2022.

The WHO cited evidence to say that children were at low risk of severe disease.

“Age-disaggregated cases reported to WHO from 30 December 2019 to 25 October 2021 show that children under five represent 2 per cent (18,90,756) of reported global cases and 0.1 per cent (1,797) of reported global deaths. Older children and younger adolescents (5 to 14 years) account for 7 per cent (70,58,748) of reported global cases and 0.1 per cent (1,328) of reported global deaths while older adolescents and young adults (15 to 24 years) represent 15 per cent (1,48,19,320) of reported global cases and 0.4 per cent (7,023) of reported global deaths,” WHO said.

It said deaths for all ages less than 25 years represented less than 0.5 per cent of reported global deaths.

“Children and adolescents usually demonstrate fewer and milder symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to adults and are less likely than adults to experience severe Covid-19,” the WHO interim statement said.

India’s National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization will meet in November end to take a call on whether to expand the national Covid inoculation drive to cover children.

Tribune Shorts


Top Stories

Opposition leaders meet Naidu, seek suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha members be revoked

Congress-led opposition walks out of both Houses of Parliament over suspension of 12 MPs

They walk out after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu de...

Centre advises states to ramp up testing for early detection of cases in view of Omicron scare

Centre advises states to ramp up testing for early detection of cases in view of Omicron scare

While underlining that the new variant doesn't escape RT-PCR...

Omicron scare: 1,000 travellers from African nations landed in Mumbai in last 15 days; 100 tested

Omicron scare: 1,000 travellers from African nations landed in Mumbai in last 15 days; 100 tested

Swab samples were collected of at least 100 travellers out o...

WHO warns that new virus variant poses ‘very high’ risk

WHO warns that new virus variant poses very high risk

The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a tec...

6 killed as cars collide in Haryana’s Kaithal

6 killed as cars collide in Haryana’s Kaithal

6 occupants of the I-10 were returning to Pundri after atten...

Cities

View All