Pfizer / BioNTech sets out to conquer the youngest. On Friday April 30, the two partner laboratories submitted an authorization request for their vaccine for 12-15 year olds to the European Medicines Agency (EMA). They hope for approval by June. A similar request was made in early April to the US regulator, the FDA. The vaccine is said to be the first to be available to adolescents.
Covid-19: will children have to be vaccinated?
It would not be a new vaccine, but the same serum already used in adults. “The immune system, from 7-8 years old, is already well formed”, explains Morgane Bomsel, virologist and researcher at CNRS and Institut Cochin. Tests are underway in children which will also have to take into account the dosage. At the moment, it is only allowed in the EU for people over 16 years old. States then decide which population has priority for vaccination.
Objective: collective immunity
The approval of a vaccine or a drug for those under 16 comes regularly after that for adults. The early clinical studies of Pfizer / BioNTech had very few adolescents in their panel. The laboratories are now relying on a new Phase 3 clinical study carried out on 2,260 adolescents and published at the end of March to request the extension of the authorization of its vaccine. Conclusion: in this age group, the vaccine showed “100% efficiency”. “The antibody responses are robust, exceeding those recorded previously in vaccinated participants aged 16 to 25 years, and the vaccine was well tolerated.”, assures the laboratory.
Covid-19: do vaccines have the same effectiveness for everyone?
Why vaccinate young people? France and the European Union are targeting 70% of adults vaccinated by July. A study published by the Institut Pasteur showed that 90% of adults were nevertheless vaccinated to be able to control the epidemic and relax the barrier gestures. A figure that is difficult to reach, recognizes the co-author of the study, the epidemiologist at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health (EHESP) of Rennes Pascal Crépey. “If we plan with a more transmitting variant like the English variant and we consider that the over 65s are 90% vaccinated, we still need to vaccinate 60 to 70% of 0-64 year olds to no longer having to take control measures ”, he explains. Adolescents understood.
The delicate approval of parents
“The benefit is indirect”, he admits, “Since it is linked to the fact that if they are protected, they also protect others. Today, we know that with messenger RNA vaccines there is little chance of carrying the virus and transmitting the infection. “ Insurance that is all the more important with “The new variants, and in particular the British, one has the impression that the transmission by children (and adolescents) is done more and better than with the viruses which circulated previously”, adds Bruno Lina, virologist at the CHU de Lyon. In other words, once part of the adult population has been vaccinated, young people (asymptomatic and very little affected by severe forms) will continue to constitute a breeding ground for the virus.
Why is the European Union suing AstraZeneca?
Wherever the vaccination campaign is advanced, the question of vaccination of 12-15 year olds arises. The United States is awaiting the green light from the FDA. Likewise Israel. The country, which has already vaccinated nearly half of its population with the two doses, hopes to be able to open vaccination to the youngest by May or June. The doors of the vaccinodromes had already been opened at the end of January to 16-18 year olds. However, volunteers must present parental authorization.
“Will parents, in general, be able to make this choice to vaccinate their teens to protect the rest of the population? “asks Pascal Crépey. Difficult to project. But the more the age decreases, the less the vaccination is perceived as an emergency, he observes. Among Israelis, who have acquired the vaccination skills, only 41% of parents say they are ready to vaccinate their child.