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Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials in children 'promising', but expert urges patience

Last Updated Mar 31, 2021 at 7:10 am PDT

In this Dec. 22, 2020, photo, provided by Richard Chung, his son Caleb Chung receives the first dose of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine or placebo as a trial participant for kids ages 12-15, at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C. Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12. The announcement Wednesday, March 31, 2021 marks a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before the next school year. (Richard Chung via AP)

Pfizer says early trial data shows its COVID-19 vaccine has so far been effective in kids aged 12 to 15

Expert out of University of Toronto says findings still needs to be peer reviewed, but believes initial data promising

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The first results from a major trial of a vaccine on kids is in, and it’s good news: Pfizer says its shot against COVID-19 has so far been 100 per cent effective in those aged 12 to 15.

The trial involved nearly 2,300 kids, and of those who received the Pfizer vaccine, none developed COVID-19, while some who received a placebo did contract the virus.

Dr. Omar Khan, a professor in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, acknowledges the data still needs to be peer reviewed, but he finds the initial findings promising.

“This trial is very interesting. It’s a small trial. There are not that many people in it, but the results are promising, so we should always caveat that,” he said, adding trials for children usually tend to be a bit smaller than those for adults.

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That’s because there’s already a lot of safety data by the time trials involving children are conducted, Khan explains, noting “we rely on the extreme amount of the number of people who have already been vaccinated.”

While Khan admits it’s still early days, he says there is hope on the horizon, especially ahead of September and a new school year.

“In the end, let’s wait until the data is fully published and peer reviewed — because now it’s just mostly a press release — and once this data has been fully vetted and looked at, we can start getting excited,” Khan told NEWS 1130.

Pfizer is the first company to release preliminary data on trials involving children for its COVID-19 vaccine, however, it’s not the only one conducting studies. Results are soon expected out of a U.S. study on Moderna’s vaccine involving kids and teens aged 12 to 17.

In addition to being peer reviewed, Khan notes Pfizer’s data also still needs to be submitted to regulatory authorities before any final approval can be given.

“For now, this is promising because it’s school-aged children. If they can be safely protected, that’s something great,” Khan said, adding there still needs to be testing done for children outside the 12 to 15 age group.

While kids have generally fared better than older groups through this pandemic, experts say vaccinating children will be an important part of getting to herd immunity.

“We know that adults can be vaccinated right now, but we still have the large proportion of the population, which are children, who can still be infected, spread the disease, but also be the source of variants because if they’re infected, viral replication happens. If there are mistakes that turn into more pathogenic versions of the virus, that can be a challenge,” he said.

Pfizer says kid who received the COVID-19 vaccine during the trial had side effects similar to young adults. The study is expected to track those who participated in it for two years to learn more about the vaccine’s effectiveness and its safety.