England’s top medical official warns of ‘substantial transmission’ of Covid-19 among children

“There is definitely substantial transmission happening in this age group. In fact, the age group we are talking about is the one in which the highest rate of transmission is currently occurring, as far as we can tell,” England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said.
UK’s top medical officers had recommended a single dose of the vaccine to all children in the age group 12 to 15.(AFP)
UK’s top medical officers had recommended a single dose of the vaccine to all children in the age group 12 to 15.(AFP)
Published on Sep 22, 2021 08:41 PM IST
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Written by Srivatsan K C | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The top medical official of England on Wednesday said that children are currently driving the transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the moment. The official also said that at some point, almost all children between 12 and 15 years of age would get infected by Covid-19 without vaccinations.

“There is definitely substantial transmission happening in this age group. In fact, the age group we're talking about is the one in which the highest rate of transmission is currently occurring, as far as we can tell,” news agency Reuters quoted England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty as saying earlier in the day. The official made the remarks during a session with British lawmakers on the decision to administer Covid-19 vaccine to children in the 12 to 15 age group.

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Comments from Whitty came two days after the UK expanded the scope of its vaccination program on Monday to include school children from 12 to 15 years of age. Earlier on September 14, UK’s top medical officers had recommended a single dose of the vaccine to all children in the age group to avoid disruption to their education. “I have accepted the recommendation from the Chief Medical Officers to expand vaccination to those aged 12 to 15 - protecting young people from catching Covid-19, reducing transmission in schools and keeping pupils in the classroom,” UK health minister Sajid Javid had said following the recommendation.

Meanwhile, Whitty said that while the vaccination programme is expected to cause some disruption to the schools, it would outweigh the disruptions that would be caused if the children were to be infected by Covid-19.

“The great majority of children who have not currently had COVID are going to get it at some point,” he said. “It won't be necessary in the next two or three months but they will get it sooner or later because this is incredibly infectious... vaccination will reduce that risk,” he further said.

All children in the age group would be inoculated with one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine while the government is undecided on the second dose. However, vulnerable children in the age group were already eligible for the shots under the country’s vaccination program.

Along with vaccinating school children, the UK has also planned to roll out booster doses for people above 50 years of age and those with weakened immune systems to check the transmission of the disease during the winters.

(With agency inputs)

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Thursday, October 21, 2021