After adults and then young people, is it the turn of infants and very young children to receive an injection against Covid-19? The answer should come quickly to the United States. Experts are indeed looking this Wednesday at the vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna for the little ones, the first crucial step for their authorization.
After the long months of waiting necessary to conduct the clinical trials, the two companies have finally delivered the results of the injections in children aged six months to 4 years for Pfizer, and six months to 5 years for Moderna. As is the case in many countries, this is the last age group not yet to have access to this protection. The dosage has been adapted: it represents a quarter of that of adults for Moderna, and a tenth for Pfizer.
A debate broadcast on the Internet
The authorization process will be done in several stages. Independent experts are tasked this Wednesday to review all the available data, during discussions broadcast live on the Internet. At the end of the day, they will vote to recommend or not to authorize these vaccines in the youngest. In the event of a favorable opinion, the American Medicines Agency (FDA) could give its authorization in stride.
Some 10 million doses would then be immediately sent to the four corners of the country, before millions more in the following weeks, the US government said. Injections could begin as early as the week of June 20, once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also gives the go-ahead. The CDC experts will meet on Friday and Saturday.
Two bites for Moderna, three for Pfizer
The main difference between the two products is the number of shots needed for optimal protection: Moderna’s vaccine will still be given in two doses, as for other age groups. That of Pfizer will require three injections, because of the low dosage chosen to reduce side effects in babies.
Both vaccines are safe and effective, according to the FDA, which released its own analysis of clinical trials late last week to provide a basis for discussion for experts. According to a preliminary estimate, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be 80% effective against symptomatic forms of the disease. But this figure is based on a reduced number of positive cases, qualified the FDA. The Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 51% effective in babies 6 months to less than 2 years old, and 37% in children 2 to 5 years old.
But while some parents eagerly await the possibility of vaccinating their very young children, others will no doubt be skeptical. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in early May, only one in five (18%) parents of children under 5 say they will vaccinate them as soon as possible. Some 38% say they will wait to do so, and the rest say they won’t, or only if it’s mandatory.