According to the scientific journal Nature, so far, there is no vaccine for children under the age of twelve, and this vaccine will be changed.
Despite some skeptics, the demand for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is increasing, including millions of parents vying to protect their children from the disease. To be precise, the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, started a clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children under the age of 12 at the end of March. Moderna began similar research on its vaccine last month.
The journal Nature published detailed answers to the most frequently asked questions about how the trial considers differences in children’s immune systems, as well as children’s sensitivity to COVID-19 compared with adults, and precautions to increase safety. Medical research surrounding children .
Is it necessary to vaccinate children?
According to a report in the journal Nature, severe forms of COVID-19 rarely occur in children, and deaths from this disease are even rarer. However, in very rare cases (estimated every one in a thousand), children with mild infections may later develop a sometimes fatal disease called Childhood Multiple System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS).
Despite the above information, children, especially the youngest children, may not be super spreaders of SARS-CoV-2 although they are infected with viruses such as influenza. However, with the immunization of the elderly, children and adolescents may begin to account for a large part of the transmission.
How do children’s trials work?
The vaccine’s trial in children under 12 will repeat the first trial in adults. It will start with the elderly and end with the six-month-old children, who will receive a series of doses to find a dose that triggers a strong immune response without too many side effects.
Once the correct dose is determined, thousands of participants will be randomly assigned to receive two doses of vaccine or placebo injections, and will be followed for months like adults.
Will children and adults respond differently to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Children’s immune systems do not have time to be exposed to multiple pathogens like adults, so they tend to have a strong immune response to vaccines. This means that they produce much higher levels of antibodies than adults, so they may require lower doses.
This very powerful response also means that children are more likely to have fever after vaccination, but this may not be a problem, because according to research, fever has less impact on children.
How will scientists know if the vaccine is suitable for children?
Just like adults, this is the purpose of clinical trials, which compare the results of vaccines and placebos among thousands of people. We know that vaccines can prevent COVID-19 in adults because clinical trials are designed to prove this. They involved thousands of people who were randomly assigned to receive a vaccine or a placebo, and they showed a convincing difference in morbidity between the two groups.
Talat said that in pediatric trials involving only a few thousand children, there may be too few symptomatic infections to measure efficacy in the same way. He said that it is more meaningful to check the immune markers after vaccination. “If we find that the immune response of children is the same or better than that of adults, we can infer that the vaccine will be effective.” Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials include markers as the main indicators of their success.
Conway hopes to see sufficient evidence that vaccines can actually prevent COVID-19 in children. Talaat said that the Pfizer-BioNTech trial in adolescents recorded 18 cases in the placebo group, but none of the vaccines were found. Therefore, the trial in younger children also showed this effect. It is not unimaginable, but it will depend on the community infection rate.
However, Christian Eberhardt, a clinical vaccination scientist and physician at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, said that if the main goal of childhood vaccination is to stop transmission, then trials should prove this. Ideally, children and unvaccinated family members should have frequent smears (which may not be welcome). Instead, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech trials are designed to analyze blood markers of asymptomatic infection, which Eberhardt believes is acceptable in this case. “This is the closest thing you can get.”
How do researchers know if the vaccine is safe for young children?
In any clinical trial, safety is of the utmost importance, but for children, all eyes will be on the surgical process and results. One of the most worrying results is that once vaccinated people are infected, they may have more severe symptoms, but the test did not show that this happened.
It is not yet known how concerns about the extremely rare blood clots associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will affect children’s trials. As a precaution, Oxford University has stopped a small-scale trial of children between the ages of 6 and 17 that began in February.