Children’s covid vaccines ready as BioNTech seeks approval in Europe
London, April 29, 2021 (AltAfrica)-The German vaccine manufacturer BioNTech says it is set to request the authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for children over the age of 12. Vaccines for younger children look set to follow.
BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin told the news magazine Der Spiegel that the company was “in the final stretches” of preparing its submission for European regulatory approval.
The evaluation “takes four to six weeks on average”, he said in an interview published on Thursday, adding that the vaccine should be available to 12 to 15-year-olds in Europe by June.
They said they hope to begin vaccinating this age group before the next school year, and will seek authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to expand the use of the vaccine.
While young people are less likely to suffer severe cases of COVID-19, they are more likely to have asymptomatic infection, unwittingly transmitting the virus to others.
The vaccination of children is seen as the next important step in achieving herd immunity and ending the pandemic.
Having older children vaccinated before the start of the next school year would also relieve the pressure on parents struggling with the demands of homeschooling.
“It’s very important to enable children a return to their normal school lives and allow them to meet with family and friends,” Sahin told Spiegel.
The manufacturers announced in March that the final phase clinical trials of their vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds showed it was 100% effective at preventing the disease.
BioNTech and its partner Pfizer have already applied for authorization for the vaccine for 12 to 15 year-olds in the United States. Teenagers over the age of 16 can already take the two-shot vaccine that is available for adults.
However, the companies are also keen to obtain approval for a vaccine for younger children.
Results from clinical tests should be available on a vaccine for children aged 5 to 12 by July. Figures for a jab for younger children, aged 6 months and upwards, should be on hand by September.
“If all goes well, as soon as the data is evaluated, we will be able to submit the application for approval of the vaccine for all children in the respective age group in different countries,” he said.
Sahin said that current trials for younger age groups were “very encouraging” with figures suggesting “children are very well protected by the vaccine.