Pfizer just announced that its COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing the virus in adolescents aged 12 through 15. The pharmaceutical company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, says they will be submitting the new data on the vaccine to the FDA “as soon as possible.” If all goes well, adolescents who are 12 to 15-years old could be eligible to receive the vaccine before the next school year in the fall. Pfizer developed its vaccine with BioNTech, a German biotech pharmaceutical company.
Bourla said, “We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encourage by the clinical data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.”
The trial had 2,260 adolescents participate in the U.S. The placebo group had 18 cases of confirmed COVID-19 infections. There weren’t any confirmed infections in the vaccine group, highlighting that it had an efficacy of 100 percent. Pfizer also said the vaccine was tolerated well, with similar side effects that adults had seen.
Pfizer-BioNTech also said its vaccine trial in the younger adolescent age group produced a “robust” antibody response that exceeded those seen in a trial with 16 to 25-year-old participants.
“We’re talking about improving the safety of youth activity like youth sports and youth art and youth extracurricular activities,” said Isaac Bogoch. Bogoch is an infectious disease specialist, citing that the trial results are a “huge step forward” in offering protection to more people and making it safer for children to go to school.
Infectious disease experts and health officials have long said that vaccination of children is necessary to end the pandemic. Because children comprise about 20 percent of the population in the U.S., herd immunity can’t be achieved without vaccinating them and adults. According to experts, 70 to 85 percent of the entire population would need to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to reach herd immunity. The stumbling block is that many adults are refusing to receive the vaccine.
The FDA has already authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in the United States for the 16 and older populations.
Moderna has also started testing its vaccine for children under 12. In December, the company had already begun testing kids between 12 and 17.
Johnson & Johnson also plans to test its vaccine in children as young as newborns but will first start testing older children.
Meanwhile, Pfizer began testing its vaccine in 12-year-olds last October. The company recently said that it just began testing its vaccine on healthy children, from ages six months to 11.
The initial phase of the trial evaluates and identifies the preferred dose for three age groups — 6 months to 2 year olds, the two to five age group, and kids from 5 to 11. The children will first receive a vaccine dose of 10-micrograms. After that, the vaccine participants will progressively get higher doses.
Bogoch said that though he’s “optimistic” that younger children will benefit as well as the adolescent age group, it’s more difficult to predict how well the vaccine will work in young kids.