James CrumpThu, 25 March 2021, 6:47 pm
On Wednesday, the pharmaceutical company began testing its Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on young children by administering shots to a pair of 9-year-old twins at Duke University in North Carolina.
The New York Times reported that data from the trial is not expected until later in the year, with the company not planning to vaccinate younger children until 2022.
Moderna announced earlier in the month that it is testing its Covid-19 vaccine in children between six months and 12 years old, while Johnson & Johnson revealed that it plans to start the same trials soon.
AstraZeneca, whose Covid-19 vaccine is not yet authorised in the US, has started testing its treatment in children aged between 6 and 17 years old.
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Both Pfizer and Moderna are already testing their vaccines on children over the age of 12 and expect to have the results of those tests in the next few weeks.
Sharon Castillo, a spokeswoman for Pfizer, told the Times that the company initially planned to wait until it had results from older children before starting trials with children under 12.
However, Ms Castillo, who did not elaborate on the results, said that Pfizer decided to bring forward the trial because “we were encouraged by the data from the 12 to 15 group.”
The Times reported that scientists will test three different doses in children aged between 5 and 11, before moving on to kids between 2 and 4 and finally the youngest group of children between six months and 2 years of age.
After the most effective dose is determined, Pfizer will then test the vaccine in 4,500 children with results expected seven days after participants receive their second shot.
Pfizer’s vaccine is currently authorised for children aged between 16 and 18 years old, with the authorisation issued for that after only two months of testing.
Vaccines could play a key role in allowing children to safely return to schools across the US, as many teachers are still not vaccinated and more than 3 million kids have tested positive for Covid-19. Of that figure, at least 260 have died and 13,000 have been hospitalised.
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Earlier this month, Dr Anthony Fauci, 79, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said that high school students should be able to receive a Covid-19 vaccine bu autumn of 2021.
“We project that high school students will very likely be able to be vaccinated by the fall term, maybe not the very first day, but certainly in the early part of the fall,” Dr Fauci told CBS’ Face the Nation.
The US has so far administered more than 130 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, while at least 46 million people have been fully vaccinated, amounting to around 14 per cent of the population.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 30 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 545,597.