'Once India starts considering...': ICMR chief says 'wise' to reopen primary schools first
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Dr Balram Bhargava on Tuesday backed reopening of schools whenever it is possible to do so, adding that several Scandinavian countries did not close their schools during any of the waves of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Once India starts considering, it’ll be wise to open primary schools first before opening secondary schools All the support staff, whether it be school bus drivers, teachers and other staff members in the schools need to need to be vaccinated,” Dr Bhargava said at a press conference, according to news agency ANI.
However, he called for primary schools to be reopened first, followed by secondary schools. This, the senior scientist explained, is because “children can handle viral infections better than adults.”. Dr Bhargava further said, “Children have an antibody exposure similar to those in adults. Some Scandinavian countries didn’t shut their primary schools in any of the Covid-19 waves.”
With schools across the country shut almost continuously since March 2020 when the first Covid-19 induced lockdown came into effect, parents have expressed concern at a possible loss of a second straight academic year. However, recently, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, too, called for schools to be reopened, further saying that vaccinating children “can play an important role in that.”
Currently, all Indian citizens above the age of 18 are eligible for a shot against Covid-19. However, in recent days, anticipating a potential third Covid-19 wave, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has initiated trials for kids. Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila has sought emergency use authorisation (EUA) for its vaccine candidate for everyone above the age of 12. Dr Guleria has previously given a likely timeline of September for Bharat Biotech’s vaccine, Covaxin, which is already being used in the nationwide inoculation drive, to be approved for children as well.