The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that Zydus Cadila, which is developing a DNA vaccine has concluded its clinical trial for vaccination between the age group of 12 to 18 years, and subject to statutory permissions, the same may be available in the near future.
ASG Chetan Sharma, appearing for the Centre, has informed the Delhi High Court that as soon as final permission is granted by the body of experts, a policy will be formulated by the Centre for vaccination of children below 18 years of age and the same will be implemented as expeditiously as possible.
The bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said it shall keep the petition pending, but added that it cannot expedite the same as if something is missed or goes wrong it will be a disaster.
The petitioner submitted that there should be a timeline for administering the vaccination to children, the petitioner wants a time-bound schedule for vaccination rollout.
“We cannot have a time-bound schedule for research,” said the Court. The matter would now be heard on September 6.
The Court hearing on a plea by a 12-year-old seeking vaccination for children in the age group of 12-17 years on an immediate basis and to prioritise the vaccination amongst the parents bearing children who belong to the same aforementioned age group in view of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Centre in its May 12 affidavit informed that the Drug Controller General of India has permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials on healthy volunteers between 2 years to 18 years of age, for its vaccine Covaxin. “That from 1st May, 2021 onwards under new liberalised pricing and accelerated national Covid vaccination strategy, all citizens above the age of 18 years including parents of Children who are residing in Delhi are already eligible for COVID-19 vaccination,” read the affidavit filed by Satyendra Singh, under secretary to the Government of India, Department of Health & Family Welfare.
It has further submitted that vaccination is its top most priorities and its making all efforts to achieve an objective of 100 percent vaccination in shortest time possible.
The affidavit comes in response to the plea which has been filed by legal guardians of minors through Advocates Bihu Sharma and Abhinav Mukerji. The Petitioners stated that the second wave of Covid-19 has not only shook the entire nation but has also affected children, too and notably recognizes in his petition that the Vaccine Policy of India against the virus and not precariously weighed the vulnerable plight of the children and their parents who are at higher risk.
The PIL averred that the Respondents have not dealt with the situation diligently and have failed miserably to prepare a National Plan for children coherently in accordance to the Disaster Management Act 2005, which recognize children and tehri vulnerability during a “biological health emergency”, such as the current pandemic.
The PIL stated that the children have been abridged of their fundamental rights under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India which equally apply to the children as the Constitution recognizes their importance and have made various provisions to nourish the children.
The petitioner submitted that the biggest problem with this generation is that they are being confined to the house and not even given any priority. The age group of 12 -18 constitutes almost 60 % of our population. They are not getting any protection from the Covid. This is going to make things very difficult as we go in the future. The entire policy of government is for those who are above 18.