Quickly vaccinate them once studies are over, government told.
The Delhi High Court on Friday said it would be a “disaster” if COVID-19 vaccines are administered without clinical trials to children, while asking the Centre to take steps to inoculate kids of below 18 years of age once the trials are over.
“Let the trials be done. Otherwise it would be a disaster if vaccines are administered without trials, that too, in case of children…Once trials are over, you quickly apply to children. The whole country is waiting,” a bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said.
During the hearing, the Centre said clinical trials for the vaccines for children under 18 years of age are going on and on the verge of completion. The Centre said children will be vaccinated when experts give permission.
The High Court was hearing a petition filed on behalf of a minor which sought directions for the immediate vaccination of those in the 12-17 age group.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, said pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila which is developing DNA vaccines has concluded its clinical trial for between the age group of 12 to 18 years and subject to the statutory permission, the same may be available in near future for children of that age group.
The Centre said vaccination is the top most priority of the government and all efforts are being made to achieve an objective of 100% vaccination in the shortest time possible keeping the available resources inmind and availability of vaccine doses into consideration.
It said that on May 12, 2012, Drug Controller General of India has permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials on the healthy volunteers between 2 to 18 years of age for its vaccine, Covaxin.
The Centre said that as of now, the companies manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in India have given only Emergency Use Authorisation for vaccinating people of 18 years age and above.
“This is also because of the fact that the clinical trial group during phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 did not cover the persons/ children below 18 years of age,” the Centre said.
Senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, representing the petitioner, said vaccines are being administered to children of the age group of 8 to 18 years in various countries and the court may ask the authorities to conclude the process in a time bound manner.
The High Court has listed the case for further hearing on September 6.