Child vaccine trials ‘positive’

The Government has signalled the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine may soon be made available to children.

It comes after Pfizer announced on Monday its Covid vaccine was effective in protecting children aged 5 to 11 from the virus, and the company would seek US authorisation for this age group soon.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday Pfizer’s vaccine trials among children had shown ‘‘very positive results’’.

While they were early results, it was still promising news, he said.

Dr Bloomfield said children were given vaccines about three weeks apart and it generated similar antibodies among them as it did among adults.

Medical regulators would act as fast as possible at the appropriate time to approve the vaccine for children if results remained favourable, he said.

For primary school children, Pfizer tested a much lower dose — a third of the amount that is in each adult shot.

Yet after their second dose, children aged 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots, Pfizer senior vice-president Dr Bill Gruber told Associated Press.

He said the company aimed to apply to the United States Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed by applications to European and British regulators.

Most Western countries had not yet approved vaccinations for children under 12.

Israel, which has one of the highest Covid vaccination rates in the world, had already begun giving the Pfizer vaccine to medically compromised children aged 5 to 11.

New Zealand regulatory authority Medsafe had not yet received an application from Pfizer requesting approval of its Covid vaccine for children under 12.

‘‘If and when Pfizer does submit an application, Medsafe will prioritise the assessment of all the data for this age group at this time,’’ a Ministry of Health spokesman said.

  • There were 14 new community cases of Covid-19 yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported.

The number of people fully vaccinated yesterday was 1,644,597 — 39% of the eligible adult population.

- The New Zealand Herald

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