Childhood Vaccination The Next Step in The Fight Against Covid-19

YOUTH Moderna has announced a study on the effects of its vaccine on children and even very young children.

Because they are not yet fully developed, clinical trials in children aim to understand how their immune systems respond to different stages of growth. Proceeding in stages by gradually descending the age groups is a standard approach in the development of treatments. But according to Amesh Adalja, it is also possible that the pandemic will be under control even before the distribution of vaccines for children is completed.

The American company Moderna announced on Tuesday that it had started trials of its Covid-19 vaccine on thousands of children aged 6 months to 11 years, a new step considered necessary to bring an end to the pandemic. Although they constitute a large part of the population, children are less exposed to severe cases of the disease, while transmitting it less for the youngest of them. Their vaccination has thus far not been a priority.

Currently, Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is licensed for people aged 16 and over, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s for those 18 and over. The three American companies have already started, sometimes for several months, clinical trials to test their vaccine on adolescents (from 12 years old). AstraZeneca is studying the effect of its vaccine from the age of 6. Biotech company Moderna now expects 6,750 children and babies to participate in trials in the United States and Canada. They will be followed for twelve months after the second injection.

Their number is less than the tens of thousands of recruits for trials on adults, because the main point here is determining which dosage is best suited for them, experts say. “Children under 10 transmit the virus less, but that does not mean that they do not transmit it at all”, including to people at risk, argued Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the ‘American Academy of Pediatrics. And “while they are less likely to get terribly ill, so can they,” including sometimes over several months, she said, recalling that several hundred child deaths have been recorded.

In the United States, about a fifth of the population is under the age of 18. And this proportion may be higher in other countries. It therefore also seems unlikely that the so-called collective immunity, necessary to stop the epidemic, could be achieved without including the youngest. We do not yet know exactly what percentage of the vaccinated population will be necessary to achieve this collective immunity: perhaps between 70%… or 85%, according to Dr. Fauci.

Not the same benefit / risk ratio
However, “the calculation of the risk / benefit ratio will be different when you vaccinate a 9-year-old or someone 90 years old,” says Amesh Adalja, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. What vaccines are very effective against, namely severe cases of Covid-19, hospitalizations and deaths, “are very rare when you consider the younger population”. In this context, “what level of side effects is tolerable? “, he asks.

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