Pharmaceutical company Pfizer on Monday said that its coronavirus vaccine works for children from 5 to 11 years of age, AP reported. The company said it will seek authorisation in the United States for this age group
Pfizer released results for phase 2 and 3 trials that were conducted to assess the safety of the vaccine and generation of antibodies among children from 5 to 11 years of age.
Bill Gruber, a vice-president of the company, told AP that during the trial, it administered only a third of the dose that is normally administered to the general public. Yet, after the second dose, the children developed antibodies that were as strong as those among teenagers and young adults, Gruber said.
The participants also experienced similar or fewer side effects as compared to teenagers. “I think we really hit the sweet spot,” Gruber said.
The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, was authorised by US regulators in late December for people aged 16 and older. After that, more than 65 countries have used it to vaccinate millions of adults against the infection, according to AFP.
In a statement on Monday, Pfizer chairman Albert Bourla said that since July, pediatric cases of Covid-19 have risen by about 240% in the United States, underlining the need for vaccinating children.
“We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorisation, especially as we track the spread of the Delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” Bourla added.
The Pfizer chairman said that the company plans to submit the results of the trial to the US Food and Drug Administration and other authorities “with urgency”.
On September 10, the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine chief Peter Marks said that the agency will evaluate Covid-19 vaccinations for younger children as soon as it gets the relevant data. On Pfizer’s vaccine, he had said that he hoped that the agency could analyse the data “in a matter of weeks”, AP reported.
In the past month, the number of children infected with the coronavirus has increased substantially in the United States. Hospitalisation rates for children and teenagers increased nearly five-fold from late June to mid-August, The New York Times reported, citing a study.
The figures were, however, lower than the peak numbers recorded in January.
Till Monday, the coronavirus has infected over 22.85 crore people and caused more than 46.91 lakh deaths since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.