At this point during the pandemic, kids under 5 make up only a tiny fraction of the number of people who’ve been sick. This age group accounts for 2.7% of total Covid-19 cases, but only 6% of the overall US population.
Kids are far less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19 than adults. Children make up 1.2% of the hospitalizations and 0.02% of the deaths. But the virus is still a threat to them, regardless. Hence, the push to release a COVID-19 vaccine designed especially for children becomes crucial.
Recently, Dr. Claudia Hoyen, director of pediatric infection control at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, reported the highest number of Covid patients in the hospital in the past week. That number far exceeded anything seen during the pandemic.
This recent surge in children cases increased the urgency for a child-friendly vaccine. Dr. Bill Hartman runs the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine trial for kids 6 months to 5 years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He thinks that a vaccine for this age group could be available as early as the first or second month of 2022. He says they are making the vaccine a priority due to the rising number of COVID cases in the children under five demographic. Hartman announced a new study to create an effective, child-friendly vaccine.
However, Hartman and his team saw so much interest that they had to shut down the recruitment line after only one day. But Hartman isn’t the only one starting to seek protection for children against COVID-19.
Dr. Simon Li works hard on the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine trial. He claims his study will follow tested children for two years to measure efficacy of their vaccine.
Moderna also plans to gather data on vaccines in younger children over the course of the next few years. Only Johnson & Johnson says it has not started trials of its Covid-19 vaccine for children younger than 12.
At first, Dr. Li thought it would be difficult to recruit children for the Pfizer/BioNTech trial. Parents can be protective, he said, especially when it comes to vaccines for their children. Thus, it can take a while to recruit volunteers.
The center initially needed to recruit about 150 children ages 6 months to 11 years.
In August, the US Food and Drug Administration asked Pfizer to enroll more participants to verify that there were no safety issues. Though there were only a handful of available spots, Li reported that another thousand people asked to be part of the trial.
Pfizer announced in an earnings call last week that in the first half of 2022, they intended to submit data from the trials to regulatory authorities.
The company reassured that the development of a third dose should not affect this timeline.
The more people the virus can infect, the more chance that it will evolve and become more infectious. We saw this happen when the Delta variant mutated.
Dr. Hartman advised parents to insulate kids from the COVID-19 virus until vaccines for children are released.