All India Institute Of Medical Sciences Director General Randeep Guleria has said that pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and biotechnology company Bharat Biotech were conducting studies to determine safe and effective coronavirus vaccine doses for children, NDTV reported on Thursday. India’s drug regulator had authorised the emergency use of the vaccines developed by these two firms on people aged over 18 years.

“If we really need to control the pandemic and have children back to school and be comfortable with that, we will have to look for vaccines which are for children,” Guleria told NDTV in an interview. “And I am aware that both the vaccine candidates which are being used in India are conducting studies to look at safety and dose as far as children are concerned.”

The AIIMS chief pointed out that more data is needed to determine the safety of the vaccines for children. “You can’t say that children are little adults, they are different in terms of both the dose that is required and the side-effects that can happen... So, we need data,” he said.

Guleria also spoke about expanding the vaccination drive. “If we are able to get more vaccines, whatever be the companies, that would be useful for our country because that will allow us to vaccinate more and more people,” he said.

The comments of the AIIMS chief came after pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology firm BioNTech announced that their vaccine was 100% effective against the coronavirus in 12 to 15 year olds. However, the data from the trial has neither been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal.

Nearly 500 children tested Covid-19 positive in March in Bengaluru

Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, has reported about 500 cases of coronavirus infecting children in March. Of the nearly 2,000 positive cases recorded in Bengaluru on Tuesday, 50 were children below the age of ten years.

The city’s civic body, however, has said that was no real surge among the children. “Since March 1, we have tested nearly 32,000 school students,” Manjunath Prasad, the outgoing Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner, told NDTV. “Out of this, only 121 tested positive – just 0.38% [of total cases]. So, we can clearly say that children are not infected in large numbers in Bengaluru.”

Prasad added it was the group of citizens aged between 20 and 40 years that is affected in the city.

The situation for children has worsened in Bengaluru as schools are now open, putting them at risk of contracting the infection. India is witnessing a steep rise in coronavirus infections. On Thursday, the country recorded 72,330 new coronavirus cases, pushing the overall count to 1,22,21,665. The toll climbed by 459 to 1,62,927.

Despite the rise in infections, Karnataka Chief Minister has made it clear that schools would remain open. “If children come to school they will be in one place with discipline,” Yediyurappa had said. “If they are at home they will be mixing with everybody. It is good for schools to continue from the point of view of control.”

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner also shared the chief minister’s views. “The situation does not warrant closing of schools for now,” he told NDTV.