Company will apply for approval ‘in coming weeks’
After several delays, the youngest age group could be eligible to receive COVID vaccinations by this summer. Moderna said its two-stage small-dose vaccine is effective in children under 6 and that it will soon apply for approval in the U.S. and Europe.
“The vaccine provides the same level of protection against COVID in young kids as it does in adults. We think that’s good news,” Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, told The Associated Press.
Like other vaccines, these shots are not as effective against contraction of the omicron variant as they are against other COVID strains. Still, they safeguard against severe illness and hospitalization, offering protection for 18 million Americans under 5 in the U.S. None of the 6,900 children in the Moderna study experienced severe illness.
As for side effects, “the majority of adverse events were mild or moderate and were more frequently reported after dose two,” Moderna said. Seventeen percent of kids between 6 months and 2 years old got a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and 14.6% of kids between 2 and 6 did. None of the children in the study experienced myocarditis or heart inflammation after vaccination.
Pfizer expects results from a three-shot trial in children under 5 by early April. The company’s earlier attempt at a two-dose vaccine for youngsters proved largely ineffective, setting back the date at which the last ineligible age group might get the chance for inoculation.
Moderna said kids getting 25 micrograms of its mRNA vaccine, including babies as young as 6 months, developed antibody levels as strong as adults who receive full-size doses of 100 micrograms.
“Given the need for a vaccine against COVID-19 in infants and young children, we are working with the U.S. FDA and regulators globally to submit these data as soon as possible,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.