The drug company Moderna announced Tuesday it has begun to test the effects of its coronavirus vaccine on children under 12, including babies as old as 6 months.
The company expects to enroll 6,750 healthy children in the United States and Canada for the study, according to the news release.
“There’s a huge demand to find out about vaccinating kids and what it does,” Dr. David Wohl, University of North Carolina’s vaccine clinic medical director, told The New York Times. He is not involved with the study.
Moderna is also testing the vaccine in 3,000 children between the ages of 12 and 17 in a separate study and is expected to have results by summer.
The vaccine is not yet authorized for use in children, so it would need to be approved before children could be inoculated.
As of March 11, over 3.28 million children have tested positive for COVID-19, about 13.2 percent of total cases, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported.
Children also accounted for 0-0.19 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.
Although severe illness due to the novel coronavirus is rare among children, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for more testing of the vaccine as well as long-term effects of the virus on children.
“Trials in children must keep pace with the tremendous amount of data being generated in adult trials, and this should be initiated safely and as soon as possible so there could be a vaccine authorized for younger children before the next school year begins,” AAP President Dr. Sara Goza said in a news release.
Vaccine side effects like fever, sore arms and fatigue can be more intense in children, so doctors say it is important for parents to know how the COVID-19 vaccine will affect their children.
The children in Moderna’s new study will receive two shots, 28 days apart.
In the first part of the study, children under 12 could receive doses of 50 or 100 micrograms.
Children under 2 years may receive two shots of 25, 50 or 100 micrograms.
The first children in the study will receive the lowest dose and will be monitored before later participants are considered for a higher dose.
A typical dose of Modernal’s vaccine is 0.5 milliliters, according to the vaccine fact sheet.
As of February 16, Moderna has provided 45.4 million doses of its vaccine to the United States government, according to a news release.
The company expects to deliver an additional 100 million doses by the end of March, followed by an additional 200 million doses by the end of May and July.
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