On Thursday, Moderna Inc. announced that it had petitioned US regulators to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for children under six, making it the first coronavirus vaccination for children under the age of five.
So far, children ages five and up can receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE. However, the results of their trial for 2 to 4-year-olds revealed a weaker immune response than in adults, promoting the study’s extension to include a third dose.
According to Pfizer, results will be available in April.
“This does represent an important area of unmet need,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said.
“There’s no other vaccine, no other therapy, that these little kids can have,” he added. “If they do judge the data to be sufficient, I think from a public health perspective, offering it to these children as quickly as possible is the best thing.”
In March, Moderna revealed the trial results showing that their vaccine was safe and elicited a similar immune reaction in young children as it did in adults, which was the study’s goal.
During the pediatric trial, the Omicron variation of the coronavirus was the most prevalent. Two doses were shown to be roughly 37 % efficient in avoiding infections in children ages 2 to 5 and 51 % effective in children ages six months to 2 years.
In an interview with CNN last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that the FDA hopes to analyze data from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the age range alongside the Moderna data.
It’s unclear how many parents in the US will opt to vaccinate their children in this age group. Only 28% of US children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, and COVID-19 is generally milder in children than in adults.
Earlier this week, the CDC revealed data showing that 75% of US children showed signs of past COVID infection in their blood, with the majority of these infections occurring during the Omicron outbreak between December and February.
However, it is advised that parents vaccinate their children.
“COVID is a bad disease. These variants now are highly transmissible,” Burton said.
“I do believe that getting vaccinated now should protect these kids: protect them against severe disease, hospitalization, protect them against the long-term effects of COVID. So it makes sense to get vaccinated.”
In a tweet last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a quick examination of the data, citing decreases in other safeguards such as masking.