If clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccines aren’t expanded soon to include children, it’s unlikely that even kids in their teens will be vaccinated in time for the next school year. The hurdle is that Covid vaccine makers are only in the early stages of testing their products on children. The Pfizer vaccine authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was green-lighted only for people ages 16 and up while Moderna just started trials for 12- to 17-year-olds for its vaccine, likely to be authorized later this month.
Sourced from AFP|Reuters by Tracy Cabrera
WASHINGTON, USA — In an early sign the next stage of the global immunization campaign, clinical trials have started for a Covid vaccine in children under the age of eleven, according to biopharmaceutical company Pfizer.
In an announcement, the American drugmaker said that it has begun the clinical trials in an effort to widen the scope for immunization and further strengthen its program to arrest the spread of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Together with our partner BioNTech, we have dosed the first healthy children in a global Phase 1/2/3 continuous study to further evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine,” it said in a virtual conference.
“We are proud to start this much-needed study for children and families eagerly awaiting a possible vaccine option,” the company added.
According to details posted on the site clinicaltrials.gov, Pfizer is testing three different dosing levels for use in this age group. The company is already testing the shots in children aged 12 to 15 and its United States emergency authorization covers people aged 16 and up.
With this development, Pfizer now joins Massachusetts-based Moderna and British drugmaker AstraZeneca in testing their vaccines in younger children even as Johnson & Johnson has also announced its plans to follow.
While children are generally spared the worst of the disease and are less likely than adults to transmit the virus, rare cases of serious Covid and deaths do occur, as well as a post-infectious inflammatory condition called MIS-C.
Under-18s account for roughly a fifth of the US population of 330 million, and most experts believe it will be necessary to make inroads towards immunizing children in order to achieve population-level immunity.
Meanwhile, Oxford University in Oxfordshire, England disclosed that it was launching a study to investigate immune responses in the nasal administration of its Covid-19 vaccine developed with AstraZeneca.
The university said that 30 health volunteers, aged 18 to 40, are being readied for the initial trials.
British researchers last September said that inhaled versions of the Covid-19 vaccine candidates developed by Oxford University and Imperial College will be tested to see if they deliver a localized immune response in the respiratory tract. (AI|MTVN)