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Vaccination of children against the Covid-19 may begin in the US soon. According to media reports, Pfizer is expected to get the Food and Drug Administration's emergency authorisation to administer its coronavirus vaccine in children 12 to 15 years old as early as by early next week. The pharmaceutical major is also planning to seek FDA approval for emergency use of its vaccine in younger children aged between 2 and 11 in September.
Earlier in March, Pfizer and its collaborator BioNTech had claimed that trials of their Covid-19 vaccine in older children (aged 12 to 15) show 100% efficacy and a strong immune response. They also said that initial results from trials that included 2,260 adolescents in the US showed the vaccine is safe with no serious side-effects. The vaccine was found even more effective in young adolescents than in adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being tested in small babies too, with the aim of involving even six-month-old babies, the company announced earlier.
Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is allowed for use in adults aged over 16 under an emergency use authorization given to the companies in December. Now, they are planning to apply for full approval of the vaccine for use in people from ages 16 to 85, as early as this month, as reported by the New York Times. Once they obtain full FDA approval, the companies can market the vaccine directly to consumers.
Compared to adults, children are believed to be at lower risk of becoming very ill or even dying with Covid-19. As per available data, children who tested Covid-19 positive have very rarely needed hospital treatment. Adults over 50 and people with serious underlying health conditions are more prone to Covid-19 complications and death, and therefore they are being vaccinated on priority basis.
Apart from Pfizer, several other drug companies have started testing their Covid vaccines on children. For example, AstraZeneca announced trials of its vaccine in UK children aged six to 17 in February this year. But the trial was paused in April over reports of possible link to rare blood clots in adults emerged. Moderna is also conducting trials of its Covid-19 vaccine on children. In a news release issued on March, Moderna said that it aims to enroll 6,750 younger children in the United States and Canada in the KidCOVE study.
Pfizer is also expecting to have clinical trial results on the safety of its vaccine in pregnant women by early August. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in March this year had revealed that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant and breastfeeding women. The study also suggested that pregnant women and breastfeeding women can pass COVID-19 antibodies to their fetuses and newborns. The researchers, including those from the Massachusetts General Hospital, also found no significant differences in vaccine side effects between pregnant and non-pregnant women. Pregnant women who received the vaccine had higher antibody levels than pregnant women who had recovered from COVID-19, the researchers stated.
With inputs from agencies
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