Pfizer has applied to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for permission to give the jab to young teens, it has been reported. The news comes at a time when secondary children later this month will no longer be required to wear a protective mask in school.
The application announcement follows the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention decision to endorse the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be given to children aged 12 to 15 across the US. The CDC said that providers may begin vaccinating that age group right away.
Studies show children could be spreading the virus
Though most children with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, some children can get severely ill and require hospitalization. There have also been rare, tragic cases of children dying from COVID-19 and its effects, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, the CDC reported.
“For vaccination to do its job, we must do our critical part,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky. “That means vaccinating as many people as possible who are eligible.”
Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist, University of Leicester, said, “We’ve known for some time that children can be infected asymptomatically with SARS-COV-2.”
Tang noted that a study from South Korea found that 22% of 91 children were asymptomatically infected.
“Similar one of our studies with our local hospital paediatric team also found about 20% (16/80) asymptomatic SARS-COV-2 in children, over 1 year of paediatric admissions,” said Tang.
This new and much larger study finds a much higher (~75%) proportion of children without typical COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Tang said the findings raised concerns about the spread of the virus via infected children in society, when most may not exhibit typical COVID-19 symptoms.
If the MHRA approves and expedites Pfizer’s application, we could see a decision made as early as July.
It comes after a trial of the Pfizer/ BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine showed 100 per cent efficacy in 12-15-year-olds.
Britain secured another 60 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine last month after an initial order of 40 million was purchased last year.