Moderna touts its vaccine for 12 to 17 age group, citing trial data

Moderna touts its vaccine for 12 to 17 age group, citing trial data-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Peel Region primary care paramedic Carley Stokotelny prepares doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in Mississauga, Ont., on April 29. Moderna, like Pfizer before it, is expected to seek authorization for its vaccine for use in adolescents. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Moderna said Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12, a step that could put the shot on track to become the second option for that age group in the United States.

Health Canada approves Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

With global vaccine supplies still tight, much of the world is struggling to vaccinate adults in the quest to end the pandemic. But earlier this month, the U.S. and Canada authorized another vaccine — the shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech — to be used starting at age 12.

“We will submit these results to the U.S. FDA and regulators globally in early June and request authorization,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We remain committed to doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The company studied more than 3,700 12- to 17-year-olds. Preliminary findings showed the vaccine triggered the same signs of immune protection in kids as it does in adults, and the same kind of temporary side effects such as sore arms, headache and fatigue.

There were no COVID-19 diagnoses in those given two doses of the Moderna vaccine compared with four cases among kids given dummy shots. In a press release, the company also said the vaccine appeared 93 per cent effective two weeks after the first dose.

Children make up 14% of U.S. coronavirus cases

While children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill from COVID-19, they represent about 14 per cent of the coronavirus cases in the U.S. At least 316 have died in the U.S. alone, according to a tally by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Health Canada’s summary of cases indicates that 18.8 per cent have been Canadians under 19, resulting in 1.7 per cent of the total COVID-19 hospitalizations. In comparison to the previous two coronavirus waves, cases in those 19 and under climbed steeply in March through mid-April before levelling off. Health Canada reports that 11 people in the age cohort have died during the pandemic.

With plenty of vaccine supply in the U.S., younger teens flocked to get Pfizer’s shot in the days after FDA opened it to them, part of a push to get as many kids vaccinated as possible before the next school year.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun testing in even younger children, from age 11 down to 6-month-old babies. This testing is more complex: teens receive the same dose as adults, but researchers are testing smaller doses in younger children. Experts hope to see some results in the fall.


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