As the controversy over masking school-aged children continues to rage here in Illinois and across the nation, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced results today from a Phase 2/3 trial showing a favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody responses in children 5 to 11 years of age using a two-dose regimen of 10 µg administered 21 days apart, a smaller dose than the 30 µg dose used for people 12 and older.
“Over the past nine months, hundreds of millions of people ages 12 and older from around the world have received our COVID-19 vaccine. We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the Delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. – underscoring the public health need for vaccination. These trial results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency.”
“We are pleased to be able to submit data to regulatory authorities for this group of school-aged children before the start of the winter season,” said Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “The safety profile and immunogenicity data in children aged 5 to 11 years vaccinated at a lower dose are consistent with those we have observed with our vaccine in other older populations at a higher dose.”
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group. A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-reviewed publication.
If the vaccine is given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, which is short of full FDA approval but sufficient to effect widespread vaccinations, the debate over mandating vaccinations in children before admitting them to school will undoubtedly take center stage.