Moderna Inc. has begun studying its Covid-19 vaccine in children ages six months to 11 years in the US and Canada, the latest effort to expand the mass vaccination campaign beyond adults.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts company said Tuesday that the first children received doses in the study, which Moderna is conducting in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“This pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 candidate vaccine in this significant younger age population,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel.
Most of the US Covid-19 vaccination campaign so far has focused on protecting adults, who are at higher risk of serious illness caused by the coronavirus than children. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are licensed for use in adults 18 years of age and older, while the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine is licensed for use in individuals 16 years of age and older.
Efforts have begun to test Covid-19 vaccines in children, who may still become infected, both to protect them from the virus and to further develop immunity at the population level to overcome pandemic restrictions.