Pfizer has announced that it has begun testing its coronavirus vaccine in healthy children aged 6 months to 11 years after testing in groups 12 to 15 years old. Health officials in the United States say that vaccination of children is necessary for herd immunity in the country.
Pfizer (PFE) announced Thursday that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with German drug manufacturer BioNTech (BNTX), has been administered to the first study participants in the 6 months to 11 age group.
The event marks an important milestone on the path to fully overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and in the world, which, according to Johns Hopkins University, has killed 2.75 million people, including more than half a million in the United States.
According to official statements from health officials and infectious disease experts, the United States is unlikely to achieve herd immunity until children are vaccinated.
Pfizer announced that 144 children will be vaccinated in the first round of vaccine testing, with the dosage level reduced from 30 mcg to an adult to 10 mcg and even 3 mcg. The optimal dosage level will be determined for three age groups – 6 months to 2 years, 2 to 5 years, and 5 to 11 years.
At the same time, Pfizer management noted that it is “encouraged” by the positive results of the study of its Covid-19 vaccine among children aged 12 to 15, completed in January. The company said it will soon release data on these tests.
“Pfizer has a long history of advancing clinical trials of vaccines in children and infants and is committed to improving the health and well-being of children through rigorous clinical trials,” the company said in a statement.
The US population has already received 100 million doses of vaccines, according to the Joe Biden administration. At the same time, the president promised to vaccinate all adults in the United States by the end of May this year, his new promise: 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the first 100 days of the presidency. All COVID-19 vaccines, except J&J vaccine, require a double dose.
According to statistics, the US population is about 331 million, about 20% are children.
Other manufacturers have begun testing coronavirus vaccines in children. Moderna (MRNA) began researching its vaccine in children 12 to 17 years old in December, and began researching its vaccine among the under 12 group on March 16.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) plans to test its one-shot vaccine in children and even newborns after initial testing in older children, The New York Times reported.
White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in early March that the US could start vaccinating older children for COVID-19 this fall, while younger children could be vaccinated early next year.
Earlier, Pfizer announced another optimistic news regarding the drug at the first sign of Covid infection – the company has begun its research. It will be an oral antiviral drug.
Pfizer shares reacted poorly to the news, gaining 0.17% on Thursday at close of trade and 0.08% thereafter.
Pfizer shares are down 17% from their December 9 high, but are still trading 26.5% higher than 12 months ago.