COVID Vaccines to Teenagers

Bharat Dogra

Some top medical scientists of India, including those in senior official positions, have recently advised against extending COVID vaccine to teenagers and children. In this they are supported by thousands of other medical scientists and doctors in other parts of the world. Their voice should be heard. However as per the official announcement of December 25, in India the union government is going ahead with extending COVID vaccination to children.

On December 24, three of the top Indian scientists and officials having a very high presence in the COVID vaccination drive made a statement that their decisions are guided by science and there isn’t scientific basis yet to necessiate paediatric vaccination. (See–Ten Questions the Indian Government Must Answer About Vaaccines for Minors and Boosters—The—26.12.21.)

Just a day later, On December 25, the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi announced that COVID vaccination for teenagers in 15-18 age group will start from January 3 as this will be very helpful for them.

On December 26 a senior epidemiologist of AIIMS Dr Sanjay K Rai, who is principal investigator of Covaxin trials for adults and children at the Institute and also President of Indian Public Health Association, termed this decision of the union government to start COVID vaccination for teenagers and children as ‘unscientific’ and said that this will not yield any additional benefit. He added that before initiating this drive the data from other countries where such vaccination has taken place should be analysed. (See PTI report published in leading newspapers, also published in the The on Dec 26-27)

Dr Sanjay Rai stated clearly that the data from other countries (like the USA) which have already started COVID vaccination for children should be analysed carefully before starting this. Surely this is the least that can be done. But the very fact that the principal investigator in India is himself stating this means that this has not been done yet and the announcement to start COVID vaccination for teenagers was made before doing this properly or adequately.

Secondly, while Dr Rai has said clearly that this vaccination of teenagers will not give any additional benefits, the question of risks for teenagers caused by this should also be examined carefully. From the information one can see already on the USA experience, these risks can be considerable and serious.

Dr Sanjay Rai made another important point in his statement. He stated that even among adults, COVID vaccination has helped to reduce severity and mortality, but has not helped significantly to reduce infection risk and even those fully vaccinated have been infected and such breakthrough infections have been increasing in some countries.

More specifically, he stated about COVID vaccination, “But according to whatever knowledge we have about vaccines, they are unable to make a significant dent in the infection. In some countries people are getting infected even after taking booster shots.”

A specific example Dr Rai gave in this context was that of UK where, he stated, at the moment of his comment being made, about “50,000 breakthrough infections are being reported per day.”

An additional reason he gave regarding the need to avoid COVID vaccination of children relates to the much lower risks from this disease to children. Combining all these factors together he made a strong case for avoiding COVID vaccine for children and teenagers.

He is certainly not alone in highlighting this as thousands of medical scientists, doctors and public health activists from around the world have already pointed this out and emphasised that there is no scientific ground at this stage for giving COVID vaccines to children. A leading voice has been that of Dr Robert Malone, discoverer of in-vitro and in-vivo RNA transfection and architect of mRNA vaccine platform, who is certainly in a very credible position to comment on this issue. He has recommended very strongly again COVID vaccine for children, pointing also to similar opposition by thousands of scientists and doctors in a declaration (see Robert W Malone’s article titled 16,000 Physicians and Scientists Agree Kids Shouldn’t Get COVID Vaccines, The Defender, Children’s Health Defense, December 15, 2021).

[The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Protect Earth Now. His recent books include Man Over Machine (Gandhian Ideas for Our Times) and Protecting Earth for Children.]

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Vol 54, No. 29, Jan 16 - 22, 2022