Next in the hunt for the COVID-19 vaccine: test shots in children

The global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine for children is only the beginning – the beginning of a gap in which some American pediatricians are concerned they may not know if a shot works for young children for the next school year. No.

Older adults may be the most vulnerable to coronaviruses, but vaccinated children will also be needed to end the epidemic. Last week, Pfizer Inc. received permission to test its vaccine in American children as early as age 12, one of only a few attempts worldwide to begin to find out if an experimental shot for adults Can also be pushed.

16-year-old Katelyn Evans, who became the first teenager to be injected, said, “All I know is that all the people they have to test can get a vaccine and people can be safe and healthy.” Pfizer studies at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Many vaccine candidates are in last-stage studies in tens of thousands of adults, and scientists hope that the next few months will bring evidence that at least some of them are safe and effective for widespread use.

But when the first shots arrive, they are unlikely to be recommended for children. Vaccines cannot be given to youth until they are tested in their age group – a major obstacle to efforts to reopen schools and resume normal activities important to the well-being of families.

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Dr. of Emory University “The public does not understand this,” said Evan Anderson, who is emphasizing pediatric testing of COVID-19 vaccines. While he is encouraged by Pfizer’s study of adolescents, he calls it “very concerning.” It is found that children younger than 12 years of age may not get vaccinated until next fall.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children represent about 10% of documented COVID-19 cases in the US, and while children are much less likely to become seriously ill than adults, approximately 120 in the US alone People have died. It is about how many American children die from the flu in an average year. Additionally, a small number have developed a severe inflammatory condition associated with coronovirus.

Overall, Anderson states that the effect of COVID-19 on children is greater than that of some other diseases that require regular pediatric vaccination.

In addition to their own health risks, there is still an unanswered question of how easily children can infect others. In a letter to federal health officials, the AAP cited recent evidence that people over the age of 10 can easily spread the virus like adults.

The President of the Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Sarah Gooza wrote that add unique school and other factors for children, and it is unethical “to carry children at great cost during this epidemic, but do not have the opportunity to benefit from a vaccine”.

Globally, pediatric studies are only emerging from hesitation. In China, Synovac and Sinporm have opened studies that can test children up to 3 years of age.

A British study of a vaccine by AstraZeneca allows for low-dose testing in some children, but the company says it will not recruit youth unless adults have “sufficient” safety data.

In the US, Modern Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Novavax all hope to start some pediatric research later in the year in different age groups.

It is important to do so, Drs. Said Robert Frank, who directs the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children.

“If we immunize teenagers – and potentially migrate to young children – we will have the effect to protect those children from getting infected. But still they do not bring infection to the parents and grandparents’ home.

Frank is finding great interest in the teenage trial of Pfizer, with 90 families seeking more information just a week after their team issued calls for 16- and 17-year-old volunteers. Researchers plan to enroll 12- to 15-year-olds soon.

Katelyn, a suburban Cincinnati volunteer, doesn’t know if she got a dummy shot or a real vaccine. But high school is excited to be a part of junior studies. And with the science class still fresh, she understood researchers’ explanations of how Pfizer’s vaccine works – using a piece of genetic code to train the body to identify what coronavirus comes from.

“I learned all things about DNA and RNA and in biology in the new year. And I think I didn’t really know, like, how it applied so far in the real world, “she said.

It makes sense to begin pediatric testing in teenagers and gradually age in, Frank said, because teenagers usually receive adult-sized doses of other vaccines – and so far for Pfizer’s shots Also, adult testing has not revealed serious safety issues.

Pfizer’s shot has been proven to work in adults, Frank said, if the vaccine alters the teen’s immune system in the same way – without any different effects. He said that if all goes well, it is possible that scientists may have answers about the group of 12 and older by spring.

But young children require their own tests. Anderson, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, said those studies could be more complex because small toots may require different doses or, usually because of a more robust immune system, on shots that vary. Show different reactions.

“It is very important for us to start this process because it will take some time to do the studies properly,” he said.


AP video journalist Kathy Young contributed to this report.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Sciences has support from the Science Education Department of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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