Children’s COVID Vaccine Trials Continue
Of the US-approved COVID-19 vaccines, one (Pfizer) is available for people aged 16 and over, and the other two (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are available for people 18 and over. But all three companies are testing the vaccine in young children, and if all goes well, vaccines for young teens could be available by this fall.
The process is slow because companies use data from each age group to plan trials for the next age group. So instead of assuming the adult vaccine is safe for babies, companies are going downhill: for example, testing first in children ages 12 to 15, then one in 5 to 11, then 2 and older. , then babies. (This is an example; the exact breakdown by age group will vary from company to company.)
Children have a lower risk of complications from COVID than adults, so they were not included in the studies. The benefits of the vaccine easily outweigh the risks in the high-risk group, to a lesser extent in the demographic who rarely get seriously ill from the virus.
But children do contract the virus, and some of them develop a serious syndrome known as MIS-C . They can also pass it on to others without the symptoms themselves, so immunizing children is likely to be the key to establishing herd immunity that protects vulnerable people who cannot get vaccinated.
As testing continues, researchers will keep an eye on security issues. They may also test different dosages if the amount of vaccine that works best for children is different from the amount of vaccine for adults.
Moderna recently announced that they have begun giving the vaccine to children as part of their KidCOVE study. The age of the participants is from 6 months to 12 years.
The president of the company also said on Today that their study, TeenCOVE (12 to 17) has completed recruitment and that the results should be available this summer. If all goes well, the company could apply for an emergency use permit (the same permit as the existing adult COVID-19) shortly thereafter, and teens could potentially be vaccinated before school starts this fall.
In January, Pfizer announced that its trial for children 12 and older had been fully registered. There are also tests for younger age groups. One of the trial’s researchers told USA Today that they also hope their vaccine will be available to children over the age of 12 by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
Johnson & Johnson also said they are planning trials for children 12 and older, and children “birth to 18 years old.” This information was in a material the company shared with the FDA when the vaccine for adults was approved, according to the New York Times .
Vaccine availability for children will depend on how the trials go, so it’s too early to predict exactly what will happen. The test results remain invisible, even to researchers, as long as they continue, so we don’t even have preliminary data yet. However, vaccines that are safe and effective for adults are often also safe and effective for children, so there is reason for hope.