The federal health regulators in the United States found on Friday said that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for younger children appears to be “highly effective” in preventing infections and has been found to not cause unexpected safety issues. The regulators in a way gave a big boost to the US’ push to kick-start vaccinations in youngsters.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared its analysis of Pfizer’s data a week before a public meeting to decide whether the jabs are ready for roughly 28 million children in the country who are aged between 5 and 11.
FDA scientists have concluded in their analysis that in almost all possible scenarios the vaccine’s ability to prevent hospitalisations and even death from COVID-19 would “outweigh any serious potential side effects” in kids.
However, FDA reviewers still have not approved Pfizer’s jab for emergency use authorisation for the younger age bracket. The panel of independent advisers will meet on Tuesday before making that decision.
The authorised double-dose Pfizer shots are already recommended for persons above 12 years of age, but paediatricians and parents are in an anxious wait for the younger children to get their vaccines in order to check infections from the ultra-contagious Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.
The FDA review has reaffirmed Pfizer’s results that showed the two-dose shot was almost 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children.
While children run a lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans 18 and under, according to the CDC. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses - in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine - for the nation's 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.
(With agency inputs)
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)