Pfizer’s COVID vaccine gets EU approval for use on children aged 5-11

The European Union’s Medicines Agency on Thursday approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 5 to 11, paving the way for shots fired at millions of primary school students amid a new wave of infections sweeping across the continent.Read also – South Africa registers new Covid-19 variant with several mutations | details

This is the first time that the European Medicines Agency has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use in young children. Read also – 11 IFS officers at Dehradun’s FRI Old Hostel, 6 people in Tibetan colony test COVID positive, 2 areas declared containment zone

The agency said it “recommended providing an extension of the indication for the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty to include use in children aged 5 to 11.” Read also – Maharashtra schools reopen: Classes for standard 1 to 4 in rural areas and 1 to 7 in urban areas to resume from 1 December

At least one country facing peak infections did not wait for EMA approval. Authorities in the Austrian capital, Vienna, have already started vaccinating the 5 to 11 age group.

Europe is currently at the epicenter of the pandemic, and the World Health Organization has warned that the continent could see deaths of over 2 million by spring unless urgent action is taken.

The EMA’s green light for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech must be rubber-stamped by the EU’s executive, the European Commission, before the health authorities in the member states can start administering shots.

Earlier this week, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the shipment of vaccines to young children in the EU would begin on December 20. The United States signed off on Pfizer’s child-sized shots earlier this month, followed by other countries, including Canada.

Pfizer tested a dose that is one-third the amount given to adults for elementary school children. Even with the smaller shot, children 5 to 11 years old developed levels of coronavirus-fighting antibody as strong as teens and young adults who received the regular strength shots, Drs. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, to The Associated Press in September.

However, the studies performed on Pfizer’s vaccine in children have not been large enough to detect any rare side effects from the second dose, such as mastitis and heart inflammation, which have been seen in mostly male older teenagers and young adults.

U.S. officials noted that COVID-19 has caused more deaths in children ages 5 to 11 than some other diseases, such as chickenpox, did before children were routinely vaccinated.

Earlier this month, the EMA said it began evaluating the use of Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 6 to 11; it estimated that a decision would be made within two months.

Although children mostly only get mild symptoms of COVID-19, some public health experts believe that immunizing them should be a priority to reduce the continued spread of the virus, which could theoretically lead to the emergence of a dangerous new variant.

Researchers disagree on how much children have affected the course of the pandemic. Early research suggested that they did not contribute much to viral spread. But some experts say children played a significant role this year in spreading infectious variants such as alpha and delta.

In a statement this week, the WHO said that because children and teens tend to have milder COVID-19 disease than adults, “it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, those with chronic health conditions and health professionals.”

It has appealed to rich countries to stop vaccinating children and asked them to donate their doses immediately to poor countries that have not yet given a first vaccine dose to their health workers and vulnerable populations.

Nevertheless, the WHO recognized that there are benefits to vaccinating children and adolescents that go beyond the immediate health benefits.

“Vaccination that reduces COVID transmission in this age group can reduce transmission from children and adolescents to older adults and can help reduce the need for mitigation measures in schools,” the WHO said.

(With input from the Associated Press)

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