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Senior AIIMS Doctor Says Decision To Vaccinate Children ‘Unscientific’

New Delhi: A day after the Centre announced to start vaccinating children in the 15-18 age group against COVID-19 from January 3, a senior epidemiologist at AIIMS here warned on Sunday that the decision was “unscientific” and won’t yield any additional benefit.

Dr Sanjay K Rai said before vaccinating children, the Indian government should analyse data from nations that have started vaccinating children against COVID-19.

Dr Rai is the principal investigator of Covaxin trials for adults and children at the institute and is also president of the Indian Public Health Association.

“I am a great fan of PM Modi for his selfless service to nation and taking right decisions at right time. But I am completely disappointed with his unscientific decision on children vaccination,” Dr Rai said in a tweet tagging the PMO.

Elaborating, he said that COVID-19 mortality in susceptible populations is around 1.5 per cent, or 15,000 deaths per million population. “Through vaccination, we can prevent 80-90 per cent of these deaths, which means that 13,000 to 14,000 deaths per million people can be prevented,” he told the PTI. “So, if you do a risk and benefit analysis in adults, it is a huge benefit,” he said.

Dr Rai, however, said that the severity of infection was very low in children and that according to data, only two deaths per million have been reported.

“In this section (children), 15,000 (people) are not dying and keeping in mind the adverse effects also, if you do a risk and benefit analysis, then the risk is more than the benefits,” he said.

Dr Rai may be against it, but several countries have started vaccinating children or are considering to. Following is the list based on a Reuters report:

European Union

Italy, France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, Sweden, Finland.

Europe (Non-EU)

Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Russia.

Middle East & Africa

Bahrain, Israel, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Guinea, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt.

Asia-Pacific

China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam.

Americas

US, Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador.

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