The government on Tuesday favoured the reopening of primary schools over secondary schools, and also emphasised that all staff should be vaccinated against Covid-19.
"Once India starts considering, it will be wise to open primary schools first before opening secondary schools. All the support staff whether it be school bus drivers, teachers & other staff in the school need to be vaccinated," ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said at a press conference today.
He said the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR's) latest national serosurvey has found that the seroprevalence among those aged six to nine was 57.2 per cent which is very similar to adults.
Asked about opening schools since COVID-19 cases have declined in many districts, Bhargava said children can handle viral infection much better than adults and it has also been established that they have a lower number of ace receptors to which virus attaches.
"In some countries, particularly the Scandinavian ones, they (authorities) did not shut down their primary schools during the first, second or third wave...whatever (Covid) waves they had, their primary schools were always open.
"So, once India starts considering opening schools, it will be wise to begin with the primary schools. Also, we have to ensure that all support staff members, be it school bus drivers or teachers, are vaccinated," Bhargava said.
Earlier in June, AIIMS Chief Dr Randeep Guleria had said that making COVID-19 vaccine available for children will pave the way for reopening of schools and resumption of outdoor activities for them.
The data of phase two and three trial of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin on two to 18 years age group is expected by September, Dr Guleria had said, adding that the vaccine can be available for children in India around that time following approval from the drug regulator.