On Thursday, the European Union’s drug regulator approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for treatment for children from 5 to 11 years old, opening the way for vaccines to be given to millions of elementary school pupils among a fresh influx of viruses spreading across the region.
It is the first time the European Medicines Agency has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for young children. The agency stated it “recommended granting an extension of indication for the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty to include use in children aged 5 to 11.”
At least one country suffering from rising infections didn’t wait for the EMA permission. Officials in the Austrian capital, Vienna, already have started vaccinating the 5 to 11 age group. Europe is now at the pandemic’s epicentre, and the World Health Organisation has cautioned the continent could witness deaths top 2 million by the spring unless necessary actions are demanded.
The EMA green light for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer and German company BioNTech needs to be rubber-stamped by the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, before health officials in member states begin offering shots.
Earlier this week, Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said transportation of vaccines for younger children in the EU would start on Dec. 20. The United States approved Pfizer’s kids-sized shots earlier this month, accompanied by other countries, including Canada.
Pfizer experimented with a dose of a third of the volume presented to adults for elementary school-age children. Even with the less shot, children 5 to 11 years old produced COVID-19 fighting antibody levels just as effective as teenagers and young adults receiving the regular-strength shots, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told The Associated Press in September.
But the research on Pfizer’s vaccine in children hasn’t been prominent enough to discover any unusual side effects from the second dose, like the chest and heart inflammation observed in primarily older males.
American officials remarked that COVID-19 had caused more casualties in children in the 5 to 11 age group than any other diseases, such as chickenpox, did before children were regularly vaccinated. Earlier this month, the EMA announced it began assessing the application of Moderna Inc.s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 to 11; it considered that a choice would be made within two months.
Although children frequently only experience mild symptoms of COVID-19, some public health authorities believe vaccinating them needs to be a preference to defeat the virus’ constant spread, which could probably lead to the rise of a deadly new variant.