The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is highly effective in teenagers between 12 and 15 years old, perhaps even more than adults, the companies reported on Wednesday. Drug manufacturers said that a recent clinical trial found no infection in children receiving the vaccine; Children caused strong antibody reactions and experienced no serious side effects.
The conclusion, if they hold up, could increase the speed of return to normalcy for millions of American families. Depending on regulatory approval, vaccination may begin before the start of the next academic year for middle school and high school students, and not later than for primary school children.
The companies announced the results in a news release that did not include detailed data from the test, which has not yet been reviewed nor published in a scientific journal. Nevertheless, the news attracted praise and enthusiasm from experts.
“Oh my God, I’m so happy to see that – it’s amazing,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University. If the performance of vaccines was A-plus in adults, the results in children were “A-plus-plus”.
The good news also comes as the country registers another increase in infections and health officials make fresh calls for caution and vaccination for Americans. On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drs. Rochelle Wallensky said that increasing cases Had left him with a sense of “impending doom,” While President Biden called on state and local officials to reinstate masked mandates.
Vaccination efforts are gaining momentum across the nation. As of Tuesday, 29 percent of adults At least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine was obtained, And 16 percent was completely deactivated, according to the CDC
But the country cannot expect to reach herd immunity – at which point immunity becomes so widespread that it slows its crawl through the coronovirus population – without vaccinating the youngest Americans, some experts say is. About 23 percent of the population in the United States has children under 18.
“The sooner we can get vaccinated to as many people regardless of our age, the sooner we can truly feel that we are ending this epidemic for good,” said Angela Rasmussen, a variologist with Georgetown University Said in Washington.
Israeli data suggests that vaccinating adults alone can significantly reduce the number of cases, but “to kill the long-term immune herd, we have to have children vaccinated,” he said.
The trial involved 2,260 teenagers aged between 12 and 15 years old. Children received two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart – the same amount and schedule used for adults – or a place of saltwater.
Researchers reported 18 cases of coronovirus infection in the placebo group, and none of the children who received the vaccine. Dr. Rasmuss said that the still low number of infections makes it difficult to be very specific about the vaccine’s efficacy in the population.
“But obviously, it sounds good for the vaccine if there were zero Kovid cases among the vaccinated people,” she said.
Adolescents who received the vaccine produced, on average, a much higher level of antibodies than participants aged 16 to 25 per trial. Children experienced the same minor side effects as older participants, although the companies refused to be more specific.
Dr. Iwasaki stated that he expected antibody levels in adolescents to be comparable to those in young adults. “But they are getting even better levels from vaccines,” she said. “It’s really incredible.”
He and other experts cautioned that the vaccine may be less effective in children and adults, against some variants that have started circulating in the United States.
Pfizer and Bayonet have begun clinical trials and vaccination in children under 12 years of age. Children ages 5 to 11 Just last week. Scientists at the company plan to introduce the vaccination next week to young children, ages 2 to 5, followed by testing in children from 6 months to 2 years.
Results of a three-phase test are expected in the second half of that year, and companies are expected to make the vaccine available to children under 12 by early next year.
Pfizer President and Chief Executive Officer Albert Borla said in a statement, “We encourage the use of our vaccine to expand to additional populations, and for clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 . “
Modernity has also been Its vaccine test Among children. The results of a test in adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age are expected in the next few weeks and in children 6 months to 12 years old in the second half of this year.
AstraZeneca has begun testing its vaccines in children 6 months and up to the last month, and Johnson & Johnson has said that it will test results in older children before testing its vaccine in children under 12 years of age. Will wait
Some parents have stated that they are reluctant to vaccinate their children because the risk posed by the virus is low. Children die from Kovid-19 less than 1 percent, but about 2 percent of children with the disease require hospital care.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the new results may not be for all parents, but they can reassure parents who have been wary of vaccines.
He said, “I don’t think we have to wait until the children are vaccinated to fully open the school, being able to vaccinate the children makes some families feel safe returning to school.” Can help, ”she said.
Pfizer and BioNotech plan to request the Food and Drug Administration to amend the Emergency Use Authority for their vaccines, in hopes of vaccinating older children before the start of the next school year. The companies also plan to submit their data for peer review and publication in a scientific journal.
They will monitor participants for two years after the second dose to assess the long-term safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Vaccine side effects are usually evident within the first six weeks, with pediatrician and vaccine specialist Dr. Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. Kristin Oliver said. “Nevertheless, it is good to know that security surveillance continues,” she said.
The CDC recommends that people avoid taking other vaccines for two weeks before and after receiving two doses of the coronovirus vaccine.
Dr. Oliver said that children get more vaccines in the first few weeks before the school year, so pediatricians and parents should aim to do those other vaccinations earlier than normal.
Dr. Oliver said that the coronovirus vaccine should ideally be given by pediatricians who have extensive experience in vaccinating children. “Now is the time to start planning how the rollout will happen in this age group.”