(The hill) – Parents of children under five months were waiting for a vaccine against coronavirus, and from time to time hope disappeared.
But there are some signs of progress in the COVID-19 vaccine for the youngest children, the only age group where the vaccine is currently not available.
Here are five things to know:
Pfizer expects results in April
The Pfizer vaccine for children under the age of five was on the roller coaster. In February, it emerged that the vaccine could move toward resolution, and a meeting of the advisory group of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled. But this was delayed due to an unexpected move as the company said it would wait for data on the third dose, which is expected to be more effective.
This data on the third dose may appear soon, which will help clear the way for potential authorization. Earlier, Pfizer said that the data will arrive in “early April”.
CEO Albert Burla seemed to confirm that deadline this month when he detailed the company’s decision to expect data from the third dose.
“We decided, after many times back and forth, to wait for the third dose so that we could have a very clear picture, because it is equally important to make sure that the data is true to the public,” he said. on CNBC. “So we expected the full picture to tell [data] come, a few more weeks before that. ”
Moderna is also in the hunt
While much attention has previously been drawn to Pfizer, Moderna made news this week when it said it would soon, in the coming weeks, apply for a two-dose vaccine permit for children under six.
As a positive sign, the company said the vaccine is capable of eliciting an immune response similar to that seen in adults.
However, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing any infection was quite low: about 44 percent for children aged six months to two years and 37 percent for children aged two to five years.
However, experts and the company defended the results, saying that these figures are only for the prevention of any infections, including lung diseases, and the figures for the most important purpose, the prevention of serious diseases, are probably much better. This was the case with omicron for adult vaccines, which showed that they were much more effective in preventing serious disease than in preventing any infection.
“The effectiveness against infection was 44 percent,” Anthony Foci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, spoke of Moderna’s results for children this week. “Now it may seem like a small number, but in the Omicron era it’s actually quite comparable to the effectiveness against infection in what we see now with other vaccines.”
The two companies adopt different strategies
Once Pfizer data arrives in April, the FDA will be able to compare the two-dose Moderna vaccine with the three-dose Pfizer vaccine.
However, each dose of Moderna is larger, which may increase the effectiveness of the two doses. Moderna vaccine for children is 25 micrograms, which is a quarter of the adult dose, while Pfizer vaccine for children is three micrograms, only one tenth of the adult dose.
William Moss, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins University, said the companies are trying to find the right balance in a dose sufficient to be effective, but not so large as to cause more side effects.
“They’re trying to find that balance between enough vaccines to protect children by weighing these short-term side effects such as fever or soreness,” Moss said.
“The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may have been too low in its dosage, and so to improve the effectiveness of the vaccine, they choose three doses,” he added.
Vaccines show good safety results
There were no red safety flags on the baby vaccines.
This week, Moderna reported that its trials showed a “favorable safety profile” that was generally similar to adult vaccines.
A small percentage reported fever after vaccination, and a very small percentage, 0.2 percent, reported fever above 104 degrees.
There have been no deaths or cases of myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart.
“The safety profile was pretty good – no more, no less, than you’ll naturally see with so many other vaccinations,” Foci said this week of Moderna’s results.
Stocks are enough, but there are fluctuations
Amid the battle for funding in Congress, there are concerns that the government will not have enough money to buy a fourth dose for all adult Americans if needed. But there is a sufficient supply of doses for young children once the vaccine is allowed.
“We have these supplies for children under the age of six, so that’s good news,” the White House Response Coordinator at COVID-19 said. Jeff Zients said this week.
“And these vaccinations will be available in tens of thousands of places across the country that parents know and trust,” he said.
Vaccination levels lag behind in the group of children where the vaccine is already available, and only about a quarter of children aged 5-11 are fully vaccinated.
So while some parents are looking forward to vaccines for young children, others will not be in a hurry.
“This is our least vaccinated age group,” Moss said of children ages 5-11. “I expect that if vaccines become available, the coverage of children under the age of 5 will be even lower.”