The first coronavirus vaccine for children could be approved as early as June, according to the chief scientist behind the Pfizer jab.
Pfizer has already submitted for approval a modified dose of the vaccine for children aged 12 and over in the US, and plans to submit it next week to the European Medicines Agency for use in the European Union.
The process typically takes a few weeks and if approved the first jabs could be given to children in the US and EU from June.
“Things can move very quickly now,” Prof Ugur Sahin, founder of BioNTech, the German company that developed the Pfizer vaccine, told Der Spiegel magazine. “
Prof Sahin said US test studies showed the vaccine was well tolerated in children aged 12 and over and generated a high antibody response, offering 100pc protection from Covid-19.
“These results indicate that children are particularly well protected by the vaccine,” he said. While only authorised for adults in the UK and EU, it is approved in the US from the age of 16.
The makers of the four vaccines currently approved in the EU – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – have all agreed plans on the extensive testing that would be necessary before they can be approved for children.
Vaccines are typically approved cautiously, with the effects in over-12s monitored before being given to younger children.
Tests are already underway on the effects of the Pfizer vaccine on younger children, with initial results expected in July for the five-to-12 age group, and in September for children from six months to four years old.
“If all goes well, as soon as the data have been evaluated, we can submit applications for approval of the vaccine for children of the relevant age group,” said Prof Sahin.
The Pfizer vaccine was the first to be approved in the UK, US and EU. Prof Sahin and his wife, Ozlem Tureci, who also worked on its development, are hailed as heroes in Germany.
In January, weeks after the vaccine was approved for adults, Prof Sahin and Dr Tureci set out to develop a safe version for children before next winter.
While herd immunity among adults may be enough to contain the virus, Prof Sahin was concerned about the risk that a variant dangerous to children could develop. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)