A COVID-19 vaccine for kids likely won’t be approved until after January 2021, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have all recently announced successful vaccine candidates, distribution of which could begin as early as mid-December. Pfizer and Moderna are still awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration. The process for approving vaccines for use by children is more rigorous, however, and will take more time and research.
The earliest vaccines are expected to be distributed to healthcare workers, the elderly, and essential workers. Kids awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine will have a slightly longer wait, as vaccine trials thus far have largely focused on adult populations.
The delay on a vaccine for children is not unexpected, but it will likely throw a wrench into schooling plans for many families. A number of states and cities, including New York City, have closed down public schools as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths surge to record levels in the U.S. Many had plans to reopen for in-person classes in the spring of 2021, but that may see further delay as we await a COVID-19 vaccine approved for kids.
Speaking with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fauci noted that children are in a particularly vulnerable group. “Children, as well as pregnant women, are vulnerable,” Fauci said. “So before you put it into the children, you’re going to want to make sure you have a degree of efficacy and safety that is established in an adult population, particularly an adult normal population.”
Vaccine trials typically begin the process by testing young, healthy adults. Eventually, they expand into other, more vulnerable, groups. Pfizer expanded its trial in late October to include children as young as 12. Moderna and AstraZeneca have yet to include kids in their COVID-19 vaccine trials, but Moderna believes it could have a vaccine ready for children by the middle of 2021.
Before that can happen, Phase I and II trials will need to be completed, along with testing a growing number of patients and a bridge study, according to Fauci.
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