By Shalini Bhardwaj
New Delhi [India] July 2 (ANI): As schools across the country reopened after the summer vacation, there are concerns among parents about their children getting infected with COVID-19 as a surge in cases was witnessed in parts of India.
However, an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist said that there are very low chances of COVID infection among children less than 12 years old and asserted that people do not need to panic or worry at this point time.
ICMR scientist Dr Tanu Anand said, "There is limited evidence of vaccination below 12 years. Currently, I can say that we have enough evidence globally available as well as in the Indian context, which shows that children younger than 12 years and even very young children less than 5 years old physiologically have their lungs less prone to contracting this infection."
Explaining the reason behind the low chances of COVID cases among children under 5 years, she said, "Because of the presence of less number of ACE type two inhibitors, which is angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, to which this SARS CoV2 virus binds actually."
"So, they are definitely at lower risk of getting a severe form of the disease and therefore, we can allay our anxieties and worries, particularly for children for whom the vaccine is not available currently," she added.
Asserting the importance of adhering to COVID behaviours, the ICMR scientist warned that people need to be cautious as the virus is still there and its transmission also taking place.
Dr Anand suggested the schools should take classes in an open environment instead of traditional classrooms.
"For younger children, it becomes a little cumbersome task because they do not understand the concept of social distancing, particularly children in primary or nursery and also wearing of masks for long hours during the school is also little difficult for them. So, in that case, we can adapt our teaching methodology in the way that we take classes in open settings or in ventilated rooms AC should not be put on."
"We should be screening our adult staff and older children as well for them by testing them periodically or symptom checking. We do not recommend it because there is less evidence now that by just temperature and symptoms check, we can keep control of the disease but definitely periodic checking on the staff is important," she explained.
Dr Anand also emphasized COVID vaccination and precautionary doses for school staff.
"School authorities should make sure that all the teachers and other administrative school staff are vaccinated as per the standard guidelines from time to time and also the transport staff who is transporting the students from home to school and vice versa. So, these are some of the considerations which we need to take into account some amount of transmission will keep on happening unless we have a new variant of the virus emerging."
"We need not panic or worry at this point of time. So for me, the key message is following up the COVID appropriate behaviour along with the age-appropriate vaccination of anyone who is going to school is the only major one needs to follow," she added. (ANI)