The Pfizer laboratory said last Thursday that it had started clinical trials for its product against COVID-19 in young people (under the age of 11), saying it hoped to make it available to them by early 2022.
We administered the first doses in children (...) in order to assess the safety, how it is tolerated, and the immunogenicity of the vaccine (...) to prevent COVID-19 in children of 6 months to 11 years.
Immunogenicity is the ability to trigger an immune response. Three different strengths will be investigated first, according to clinical trial details published online. Pfizer added:
We hope the vaccine can be made available to these younger children by early 2022. We are proud to be starting this much needed study for children and families eagerly awaiting an option to get vaccinated.
A concerted effort
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is currently given to people 16 years of age and over, in countries where it is authorised. It is also being studied in more than 2,200 children between the ages of 12 and 15. Pfizer hopes to share the results of these trials 'soon,' the company added.
Last week, the American biotechnology company Moderna also announced that it had started trials of its own vaccine against COVID-19 on thousands of children aged 6 months to 11 years old. Children are less exposed to severe cases of the disease, whilst also transmitting it less, for the youngest of them (under 10 years). Their vaccination has therefore not been a priority for the moment.
Children, a priority concern
However, a small portion can still get seriously ill, or develop what researchers have called multisystem childhood inflammatory syndrome. Several hundred have died from COVID-19.
Furthermore, children represent a large part of the population, which will likely also need to be vaccinated to achieve collective immunity, experts say. Those under the age of 18, for example, make up about a fifth of the American population.