Pfizer begins the first clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine in children under the age of twelve. The first participants in the trial, two nine-year-old twins, were vaccinated this Wednesday at Duke University in North Carolina.
For several weeks, some laboratories have started clinical trials of their serum against Covid-19 on the youngest. Moderna, for example, now focuses on children aged six months to twelve in the United States. The company has already tested its vaccine in children over the age of twelve. Moreover, the results are expected in the coming weeks.
AstraZeneca also began its first trials in children six months and older last month. As for Johnson & Johnson, the company plans to expand these tests to younger ones after evaluating its performance in those over the age of twelve.
Pfizer begins its first tests
Now it’s Pfizer’s turn to look to the younger generation. Researchers will test three doses of the vaccine (ten, twenty and thirty micrograms) in 144 participants. Each dose will be evaluated first in children five to eleven years old, then in children two to four years old and finally in the youngest group (six months to two years old).
After determining the most effective dose, the company will test its vaccine on 4,500 other children. Two-thirds of these participants will be randomly selected to receive two doses of the serum 21 days apart. The rest will receive two placebo injections of saline. Researchers will assess the children’s immune response in blood drawn seven days after the second dose.
Children often react more strongly to vaccines than adults, so possible side effects will therefore be monitored with the utmost vigilance.
The results of the trial are expected in the second half of the year. According to Sharon Castillo, spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer then hopes to vaccinate young children in early 2022.
Why is this important?
To date, more than 3.3 million children have tested positive for Covid-19 in the United States (13% of all cases reported across the Atlantic). On this sample, at least 13,000 were hospitalized and at least 260 died from Dr. Yvonne Maldonado who represents the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Researchers also estimate that 80% of the American population may need to be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity. However, children under the age of eighteen represent about 23% of the population in the USA.
So even though a large majority of adults turn to vaccines, “herd immunity may be difficult to achieve without children being immunized“, Emphasizes Dr Emily Erbelding. Infectious disease specialist at the National Institutes of Health who oversees testing of Covid-19 vaccines on American children. Still according to the expert, “this vaccination campaign will allow schools to reopen and help end the pandemic“.