Public/Global Health

Moderna chief: Getting children under five COVID-19 vaccines one of ‘highest priorities’

Moderna’s chief medical officer is hopeful that parents will be able to vaccinate their children under age 6 against COVID-19 by this summer at the latest. 

The company’s chief medical officer, Paul Burton, told Katie Couric Media (KCM) on Thursday that parents can expect to get their small children vaccinated “later this spring or early summer — if not sooner.”

“It’s really one of our highest priorities,” Burton said, “We’re working around the clock and our teams are on it all the time.”

His comments came just one day after Moderna announced on Wednesday that it would seek emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine for children younger than 6, after preliminary data showed kids in that age group had a similar immune response to adolescents and young adults when given a smaller dose of the vaccine.

In a statement, the company said that the trial of 6,900 kids that was designed to study safety and immune response — not effectiveness — saw no new side effects or safety issues. 

However, Moderna said the vaccine was only about 44 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in children 6 months to 2 years old, and 37 percent effective in children aged 2 through 5. 

Burton told KCM that the lower percentage of efficacy shouldn’t cause concern as antibody levels are still high enough to fight off infection.

“The antibody levels are exactly where we need them to be. We know that that should translate into protection against Covid and protection against severe Covid hospitalization, so that coupled with the safety is very reassuring and really good news,” he added.

The study also showed that there were no cases of heart inflammation, a rare side effect linked to mRNA vaccines in adults and teens. 

“We know a lot more about myocarditis than we did last year,” he added. “The risk is certainly lower with mRNA vaccines than it is with Covid.”

The company said it will be submitting data to the Food and Drug Administration “in the coming weeks.”

This news comes as parents of under-6-year-olds have felt largely isolated as vaccines for children above age 5 and adolescents rolled out late last year.

During the most recent omicron wave, the hospitalization rates of infants and children ages 4 and under spiked to five times the rate of the previous peak during the delta variant wave, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine FDA Moderna MRNA vaccine

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