The need is urgent: Children now account for more than one in five new cases, and the highly contagious Delta variant has sent more children into hospitals and intensive care units in the past few weeks than at any other time in the pandemic.
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for authorization to use the vaccine for ages 5 to 11. If the regulatory review goes as smoothly as it did for older children and adults, millions of elementary school students could begin to receive shots around Halloween.
Trial results for children younger than 5 are not expected until the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest, according to Dr. Bill Gruber, a senior vice president at Pfizer and a pediatrician.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced the results in a statement that did not include detailed data from the trial. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed nor published in a scientific journal.
But the new results dovetail with those seen in older children and in adults, experts said.
“There’s going to be a huge number of parents who are going to heave a big sigh of relief when they hear this,” said Dr. Kristin Oliver, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “We’ve been waiting for these kids to be protected.”
Children have a much lower risk of Covid-19 than adults, even when exposed to the Delta variant. Still, some small number of those infected develop a life-threatening condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Others may have lingering symptoms for months. (NYT)