The United Kingdom on Friday approved the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech for use in children in the 12-15 age group. So far, the vaccine was used only on those aged 16 and above.

“We have concluded that the vaccine is safe and effective in this age group and that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk,” June Raine, Chief Executive of Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the country’s health regulator said.

The final decision to allow the use of the vaccine in the 12-15 age group will now be taken by Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, Raine said.

Over 2,000 children aged 12-15 years were studied as part of the randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine among children, Munir Pirmohamed, Chair of the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines, said. Pirmohamed said that no cases of Covid-19 were detected among the vaccinated group, seven days after they received the second shot. On the other hand, 16 cases of the infection were detected in the placebo group.

“In addition, data on neutralising antibodies showed the vaccine working at the same level as seen in adults aged 16-25 years,” he said.

Last month, the United States’ drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, had authorised the use of the Pfizer vaccine among those in the 12-15 age group. The European Union too will start vaccinating adolescents with the Pfizer jab starting this month, PTI reported.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria has said that the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be cleared for use in India soon and will likely be available for children too.