What the FAQ: India gives nod to Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials for children. Can your child take it?

SII chief Adar Poonawalla said he expects Covovax, the domestic version of Novovax, to be approved for those below 18 years in January or February next year
Picture: Edexlive
Picture: Edexlive

On September 28, India's drug regulator allowed Serum Institute of India to enrol children aged 7-11 years for its trial of US drugmaker Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, this comes as the country prepares to protect children from the Novel Coronavirus. But what does it mean for you and for your kids? We break that down for you.

Who created NVX-CoV2373 and where is it available?
NVX-CoV2373 is COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by US-based Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It is yet to receive emergency approval in the US. However, Japan has already secured 150 million doses of the vaccine. 

What is Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, all about?
Novovax's vaccine targets the spike protein on the surface of the Coronavirus — which is the protein that allows the virus to tap into the human cell. Novavax has achieved this by engineering copies of the spike protein in the lab using the cells of a moth. The Novavax vaccine is yet to be granted approval by Indian health authorities.

Is or was there a similar vaccine made in India?
Covovax is SII’s version of Novavax and it is believed to work in the same way. In August 2020, the two companies announced an agreement under which Novavax had given SII the licence to manufacture and supply the vaccine in third world countries such as India.

What is the current status of Covovax?
SII is already conducting a trial of Covovax in the 12-17 age group and has presented safety data for an initial 100 participants. Earlier this month, SII chief Adar Poonawalla said he expects Covovax to be approved for those below 18 years by January or February next year.

What vaccine is available for children at the moment?
Only one COVID vaccine for children has received emergency approval, Zydus Cadila's (CADI.NS) DNA COVID-19 vaccine. It is expected to be rolled out for public use by early October and can be used in adults and children aged 12 years and above.

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