Melanie, 16, is one of those vaccinated in the Pfizer vaccine trial with US adolescents Cincinnati Children's
Thousands of children are already testing the
coronavirus vaccine Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine seems very effective in adolescents. In a trial still under way with young people between 12 and 15 years old, the inoculation of the American pharmaceutical and the German BioNTech is achieving 100% efficacy. Although the trial has yet to be reviewed and it has only been a month since the second dose, the vaccinated kids show a high generation of neutralizing antibodies to the virus. Furthermore, they have had hardly any adverse reactions beyond swelling and redness and none different from those already seen in adult trials. Like Moderna, Janssen or AstraZeneca (also with trials in children), Pfizer dreams of having it ready for the start of the next school year.
Why are children less contagious, less infected and less affected by COVID?
Pfizer was the first to test its vaccine in children under 18 years of age. During last year's adult trials, they included about 200 young people between the ages of 16 and 18. At the time, none of them were infected, but the number was small, especially considering that adolescents seem to be infected less. However, the US pharmaceutical company began a much larger study in mid-January, this time with 2,260 young people between the ages of 12 and 15. Half were given their BNT162b2 vaccine and the rest a saline solution. After the 21-day double-dose regimen, they waited a month to see how the kids' immune systems responded.
The results are really good. Although the companies have not provided details, the joint Pfizer and BioNTech press release offers a stunning result: of the 1,129 given the placebo, 18 were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the 30 days after the puncture. . Of the 1,131 who did receive the vaccine, none were infected. It should be borne in mind that, according to those responsible for other trials, a month is a short time, but the figures, being provisional, are good.
Of the 1,129 given the placebo, 18 became infected in the month after the puncture. Meanwhile, of the 1,131 who did receive the vaccine, 0 were infected.
Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, wrote in the press release: “All over the world, we long for a normal life. And it is especially true for our children. The initial results that we have seen in adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of variant B.1.1. 7 in the UK ”. The co-founder of the German biotech later added that it is essential "to allow them to return to daily school life and meet friends and family while being protected and protecting their loved ones."
The second big news that the note from the two companies includes is the high generation of neutralizing antibodies, which specifically bind to the spike of the virus, preventing it from attacking human cells. They have observed that the vaccine activates the immune system of adolescents between 12 and 15 years of age much more than those of their elders between 16 and 18.
Dr. Alberto Borobia, coordinator of the clinical trials unit of the Madrid hospital La Paz, recalls that over time, immunogenicity and efficacy tend to decline. So "long-term follow-up" is needed, he adds.
At the Cincinnati Children's Hospital (USA), they vaccinated 300 of these adolescents and are now recruiting as many as 11 years or younger. On the need to vaccinate minors, the director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research at this hospital, Robert Frenck, comments: “There are two reasons. One is the direct effect. Although the virus is unlikely to degenerate into severe disease in children, the risk is not zero. Around 300 children have died from covid in the US ". Another 12,000 have been hospitalized and three million fell ill. "The problem is that we cannot predict which child will develop a severe infection, so we need to immunize them," he adds.
"Around 300 children have died from covid in the US Another 12,000 have been hospitalized and three million fell ill. The problem is, we can't predict which child will develop a severe infection, so we need to immunize them Robert Frenck, director of the Gamble Center for Vaccine Research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Regarding the indirect effect, Frenck recalls that "if the child is not contagious, he will not be able to infect anyone else." And it brings to mind the case of the flu, in which "if you immunize children, we achieve a relevant impact in reducing the disease in the elderly." For the American doctor, "if we vaccinate children against covid, there will be less chance of infecting more vulnerable people, such as their grandparents or teachers."
Safe return to schools is one of the keys to the rush that All the pharmaceutical companies that already have a vaccine for adults are taking over and are testing versions for children . In a note, Pfizer President and CEO Albert Bourla says: “We plan to send this data to the FDA [the US drug agency] as a proposed amendment to our emergency use authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, hoping to start vaccinating this age group before the start of the next school year. ”
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