Pfizer to start testing Covid vaccine on babies
It's part of plans to assess the jab's safety for children aged 12 to 15 weeks.
Pfizer has started testing its coronavirus vaccine on children under the age of 12 and will soon begin tests on young babies as part of the trials. The vaccine maker wants to make sure that its jab can be given to youngsters, the very last people who will get the vaccine as part of the UK's rollout.
The aim is for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be offered to under 12s by the start of next year. The news comes after fellow vaccine producer Moderna launched a similar trial last week.
The risk of serious illness and complications as a result of Covid is extremely low for the vast majority of children, so as of yet there are no plans for under 16s to receive the jab. The vaccines are also yet to be tested on children.
Oxford researchers are currently testing the university's jab with AstraZeneca on volunteers aged six to 17. As part of their trials, up to 240 children will receive the vaccine, with the others getting a control meningitis jab.
Whilst Pfizer and BioNTech's initial trial only involved 144 participants, they hope to expand this to a much larger 4,500-participant trial at a later stage. This will involve testing the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine on the participants, by measuring the antibody levels in the children.
Results from the trials on 12 to 15 year olds are expected in the coming weeks according to Pfizer, while the outcomes of the trials on younger children will hopefully arrive in the second half of this year.
Allowing the vaccines to be given to children will hopefully be the final stage of the vaccine rollout in this country. Over half of UK adults have received at least one dose of vaccine currently, with the government promising that all UK adults will receive a jab by the end of July.
Thanks to a monumental effort from the health service the number of people who have received a first dose passed 28 million on Thursday, and the government is on track to meet its target. There are warnings though that the rollout may be hit by some delays though over the coming weeks as a result of supply problems and the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions from 29 March.