In a sudden address to the nation on Saturday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a series of announcements on the next steps of vaccination for children and booster doses for frontline workers and people above the age of 60. The address comes at a time when India’s Omicron cases crossed the 400-mark.
A detailed highlight of PM Modi’s speech:
1. In view of the growing Omicron threat, PM Modi said that India will soon start the booster dose for people above 60 years of age who have co-morbidities from January 10, as per the recommendation of health experts.
2. Modi announced that the country will start administering the coronavirus vaccination for the children belonging to the age group 15-18 from January 3, 2022.
3. Healthcare and frontline workers will be provided with "precautionary doses" from January 10 next year, Modi added.
4. In view of the surging Omicron cases and Covid-19 infections, PM Modi urged people to be “careful and alert” and not “panic”.
5. "Use masks and wash hands regularly”: PM Modi added while urging people to keep following the covid norms.
6. In view of an increasing number of cases, PM Modi assured that preparations are underway to tackle the increasing number of infections. He listed the total number of hospital beds, available oxygen beds and detailed the vaccination progress.
7. "Today, the nation has 18 lakh isolation beds, 5 lakh oxygen-supported beds, 1.4 lakh ICU beds, and 90,000 special beds for children. We have over 3,000 functional PSA Oxygen plants and 4 lakh Oxygen cylinders have been provided to all states," he said.
8. Modi stated that more than 60 per cent of India’s adult population has received the double vaccination while about 90 per cent has received the single jab of the vaccination.
9. What do we know about children’s vaccination so far?
Covid-19 vaccination for children will start from January 3. As Omicron cases across the country surged have been surging high, the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) held a meeting on December 8 evaluating the results of all the recent trials for children’s vaccines.
Back then, the Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoV-D vaccine, which is the world's first DNA plasmid vaccine against coronavirus, was approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency usage for children above the age of 12. However, the government had informed that the vaccine would be rolled out during an appropriate time.
Apart from this, Bharat Biotech recently conducted Phase II and III trials for Covaxin for children from ages 2 to 18. Trials were also conducted for Serum Institute of India’s vaccine Covovax, for children between 2 and 18.
On Friday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the government of India has “clearly articulated the position that we would be governed with science and scientific evidence on deciding on the need and timing for additional doses and for lowering the age of vaccination,” reported ANI.
GOI has very clearly articulated the position that we would be governed with science & scientific evidence on deciding on the need & timing for additional doses & for lowering the age of vaccination: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan pic.twitter.com/Sj1tKFy6XQ— ANI (@ANI) December 24, 2021
According to reports, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has given a nod to conduct a clinical trial of five Covid-19 vaccines -- Cadila Healthcare's ZyCoV-D, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, Serum Institute's Covovax, Biological E's RBD, and Johnson & Johnson and Ad 26COV.2S -- for children and adolescents.
10. Omicron situation in India
India reported 6,987 new coronavirus cases and 162 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to government data on Sunday. A total of 422 Omicron cases have been reported in 17 states and Union Territories so far, the health ministry added.