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Immunisation panel to take call on allowing Corbevax for children

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is yet to take a call on approving vaccines for children aged five to 11, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on the sidelines of a press briefing on Friday.

An expert panel of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) recommended granting emergency use authorisation for Biological E’s COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax in children aged five to 11 on Thursday. The panel makes its recommendation to the DCGI which in most cases accepts it.

“The DCGI will take a decision on approval but when this vaccine is to be administered is a question for the NTAGI. The necessary precautions that need to be taken before administering the vaccine, the World Health Organisation’s views, are all considered by the NTAGI before they take a decision. Based on their recommendation, we’ll take a call on when this vaccine can be administered,” he said in response to queries from reporters.

While the NTAGI is the conclave of experts that recommends an approved vaccine for administration, the Centre hasn’t always sought its approval. The Centre on March 14 approved Corbevax for those aged 12-14 but didn’t seek approval from the NTAGI, according to Dr. Jayprakash Muliyil, epidemiologist and member of the NTAGI.

Uptick in cases
The recommendation of the expert panel or the Subject Expert Committee, comes on the back of an uptick in infections after India recorded 2,451 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total number of coronavirus infections to 4,30,52,425. According to the Union Health Ministry data, country’s active cases increased to 14,421.

Several States are bringing back mask mandates and parents, concerned about a rash of infections in children, are withdrawing their wards from school.

Mr. Mandaviya added that it was to India’s credit that 97% of the country had been administered the first dose. “It’s well known that when COVID cases rise, people are more sensitised about taking vaccines and when on the decline, less so. When vaccines were available after the first wave, there was less uptake. But during the second wave, people queued up. There is enough awareness about vaccines now and demand may fluctuate but it will continually increase,” he added. He was responding to a question on lacklustre demand for booster, or third dose.

Mr. Mandaviya was speaking at a press briefing to announce the annual India Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Conference scheduled from April 25-27.

The pandemic scenario had highlighted the resilience of the Indian pharmaceutical sector and Mr. Mandaviya said the country ought to be working towards strengthening this further. “We will engage with industry and academia to chalk the roadmap for pharmaceutical and medical devices for next 25 years. Indian pharma industry is known globally for its affordable and quality drugs. We shall soon get the competitive edge in medical devices too with research and innovation,” he added. The Hindu

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