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Young at risk


The ongoing COVID-19 wave is affecting people of all ages. Compared to 2020, this year more younger people are getting infected. Official data shows that 11.5% of 56 lakh Covid-19 cases in India between Jan and April, 2021 were in age-group 0-20. Most children who contract the virus have mild or no symptoms. They include sore throat, mild fever, cough or cold. However, there have been serious cases reported in younger age group too. Experts say severe Covid usually occurs in children above 13 years and mostly in those with comorbidities. At Srinagar’s GB Pant hospital, a few children reported difficulty in breathing even as the hospital has set up two isolation wards with oxygen facility. Besides, two ventilators have also been installed. Doctors in Kashmir say that the second wave is rapidly affecting the young as well. While we are already struggling with the ongoing worry, there situation may aggravate even further. On Thursday, the Supreme Court said that according to experts, the third wave of COVID-19 in the country was inevitable which will affect children and emphasised the need to prepare for the same including vaccinating people of age groups with young children. It asked the Centre to prepare for the third wave well in advance and create a buffer stock to prevent panic among the public. The top court also held that the Centre’s formula to distribute oxygen to state governments, particularly the national capital, was a gross underestimate. The apex court observed that if the preparations are made right away, the country may be able to tackle the third wave for which scientific planning to vaccinate persons would be needed. Elaborating on the third wave, the top court observed that when a child goes to the hospital, the mother and father will also have to go. As for the vaccines, Pfizer, as per reports, is doing trials on teenage children and they have got approvals in the US. They will be starting vaccination for their teenage population as well. India is also running trials for vaccines to be administered to children, the results of which will come in a couple of months. Thereafter one can expect vaccines for children as well after approval from DCGI. Most probably these will be the same vaccines and similar vaccines for pregnant ladies too. One has to wait for the outcome of the trials for children and pregnant women. The second wave has been more virulent and serious. For the time being, experts suggest keeping kids indoors. Earlier children were encouraged to play in safe areas but now remaining indoors is the best option, provided the adults are also taking precautions. It is suggested to wear masks indoors also so that people don’t transmit the disease amongst themselves in the family exposing the kids to the disease. Common areas are to be disinfected regularly for them to be deemed usable by kids.