In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reported cases of severe illnesses and deaths in the children and adolescent populations were lower than the general population. However, outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in schools and in venues with less strict preventive protocols such as summer camps and day care centers. Along with the Omicron variant surge, the reported cases among children spiked dramatically in 2022.
Milder symptoms and asymptomatic presentations, along with common respiratory infections, less care and screening has been done in these groups. Thus, children and adolescents tend to be tested less, and actual cases may be higher than the reported cases.
COVID-19 can have a lifelong impact on children
Although children are largely spared from the direct mortality impacts of COVID-19, the pandemic has disproportionately affected pediatric patients.
Disruption of educational services: At least 463 million were unable to access remote learning, exacerbating the learning crisis; exposing a vast disparity among countries
Psychological well-being: More than 50% of children who are not in contact with their friends reported feeling less happy, more worried and less safe. Child abuse is less likely to be detected during the COVID-19 crisis, anxiety and depression increased due to loss of family members and irritability, aggressiveness, nightmares, and poor concentration with withdrawal symptoms were all seen in children during this pandemic.
Economic impact: Approx. 100 million children are living in poverty without access to essential services. Loss in jobs during the pandemic has heightened the risk of domestic violence and child labor during this time. Orphaned children were more vulnerable to trafficking and other exploitation, including sexual, forced begging, and selling goods. Children were often forced to drop out of school to support younger siblings. All increasing the rate of child labor and child marriage.
Physical development: Many children were no longer meeting WHO movement guidelines (60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intense physical activity per day, seven days a week).
Long COVID-19 Symptoms: Prevalence of long COVID is 25.24% with manifestations of mood symptoms (16.50 per cent), fatigue (9.66 per cent), and sleep disorders (8.42 per cent).
The young should not be left behind in the fight against COVID-19.
Although children are less likely to show symptoms of COVID-19 than adults, 50% of children and adolescents might have COVID-19 with no symptoms. With an understanding on the urgent need of protecting those under 18 years and the important role of this population in achieving herd immunity through vaccination against COVID-19, it is crucial that they receive the vaccines which are effective and safe to use for their age groups.
At present, only some countries have approved COVID-19 vaccines for pediatric indication and international health institutions have issued guidelines on the emergency use of the vaccine in children and adolescents.
Pediatric vaccination is key to the pandemic end game
In order to stop the transmission of the virus, it is important to protect all the population groups, including the children and adolescents. However, inoculating this age group has become challenging due to safety concerns of COVID-19 vaccines in children.
After the success of the COVID-19 vaccine in adults, Hayat Biotech has shifted its focus in addressing the unmet needs in the development of the pediatric vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine BBIBP CorV (Beijing Institute of Biological Products, Beijing, China), most popularly known as the Sinopharm vaccine, is an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine that has shown efficacy in adults aged 18- 59 years and older. Further studies also demonstrated the favorable safety profile of the vaccine in children and adolescents aged 3 to 17 years.
Efficacy: high rate of protection against COVID-19 infections
The inactivated vaccine BBIBP-CorV resulted in 100% seroconversion rate in all subjects with no prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and augmented the anti S, anti N and neutralizing antibodies in those with previous Covid-19 exposure.
COVID-19 vaccine BBIBP CorV has been approved in China, South Africa and the UAE for pediatric indication.
Hayat Biotech’s drive to help close the gap in COVID-19 vaccination in pediatrics
With its trailblazing technology and expertise in biotechnology, Hayat Biotech contributes to the global fight against the pandemic through innovative products and research in an effort to help close the gap in COVID-19 vaccination. Hayat Biotech continuously delivers on its promise to address the needs of the human health.
COVID-19 vaccines approved by WHO for Emergency Use in the pediatric population:
United States/Germany: Pfizer/
United States: Moderna (mRNA 1273)
United Kingdom: AztraZeneca/University of Oxford (AZ12222)
India: Serum institute of India (Covishield)
China/UAE: CNBG (BIBP-CorV) & Sinovac (Inactivated)
References available on request
Hayat Biotech is a UAE-based Biotechnology entity created with an aim to deliver innovative biotechnological capabilities to the globe, we aim to consistently challenge the barriers of science in our determination to elevate the standards of life
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