Moderna is planning to test the effects of its COVID-19 vaccine on children.
Its study will include administering two doses of the vaccine within 28 days to 3,000 children aged 12 to 17.
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Earlier this week, the United Kingdom became the first country to grant emergency use to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, raising hopes of an end to the global pandemic, which has seen almost 65 million people infected and nearly 1.5 million deaths.
Moderna, an American firm, said this week it would apply to United States and European regulators to grant emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine after further evidence confirmed the efficacy of its jab stood at more than 94 percent.
Neither vaccines can be injected in children and pregnant women.
Pfizer began testing its coronavirus vaccine in children up to 12. AstraZeneca, which is now undergoing a new global trial, has also committed to test its vaccine on children.
“If you have rare side effects, you want to find it on adults and not harm children,” Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), told Al Jazeera.
Children have a more active immune system and can have a stronger reaction compared with adults. This can trigger the body to over-react to a vaccine and generate an inflammatory response.
“In the past, the administrations of vaccines for the dengue and the respiratory syncytial virus in children resulted in generating most severe diseases, so rather than protecting them, it had the reverse effect,” she said.
In a separate statement, Moderna re-affirmed its expectation of having approximately 20 million doses of its vaccine available in the US by the end of this year.
It also said it expected to have between 100 million and 125 million doses available globally in the first quarter of 2021, with 85-100 million of those available in the US and 15-25 million outside the US.
The pharmaceutical maker expects to produce between 500 million and 1 billion doses of the vaccine throughout 2021.