Moderna will seek approval to vaccinate children in Europe

Covid-19 vaccine could be extended to youngsters aged 12 to 17

Brianna Banuelos (L), 12, receives a first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine after it was approved for use by the FDA in children 12 and over at a Los Angeles County mobile vaccination clinic on May 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. / AFP / Patrick T. FALLON
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Moderna will seek approval from EU regulators to supply its Covid-19 vaccine to children as young as 12.

The shot is currently available for over-18s in Europe, but Moderna said it was 96 per cent effective among children aged 12 to 17.

Pfizer's vaccine was this month approved for children in the US but its application in Europe has yet to be ruled on by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel told French newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche that the company would submit its own application to the EMA next month.

The ideal outcome would be for children in countries such as France to be vaccinated by August, he said.

“If we do not vaccinate massively, the risk of a fourth wave cannot be shifted aside,” he said.

The Moderna trial results showed 96 per cent efficacy in a study involving more than 3,200 youngsters.

There were no serious side effects, although some children suffered headaches, chills and fatigue after their second dose.

Moderna is running a separate trial for children between six months and 12 years.

Participants in that trial were given their first doses in March. Results are yet to be reported.

The head of the World Health Organisation said wealthy countries should donate spare doses to the global Covax scheme instead of giving them to children.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to Covax,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO.

His comments came after Pfizer’s vaccine was approved for children aged 12 to 15 by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The EMA says it expects to make a decision in June on giving Pfizer shots to children in Europe.

FILE - In this Thursday, May 13, 2021, file photo, children ages 12 to 15 wait to get their vitals checked before getting their Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Families Together of Orange County in Tustin, Calif. California's top health official says the state will no longer require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15. State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said Friday, May 21, that the state envisions loosening many of its rules in mid-June as coronavirus cases continue to fall and vaccine rates continue to rise. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently available for over-16s in Europe, while the Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca shots were approved for over-18s.

AstraZeneca is carrying out its own trial for children aged between six and 17.

Under the EU's plans for a digital travel certificate, children who have not yet been vaccinated will have to show a negative result from a PCR test.

EU leaders say the certificate is on track to be introduced by the end of June after an agreement between the European Council and Parliament on Friday.

Member states will be obliged to accept EMA-approved vaccines and may accept others such as Russia’s Sputnik V shot.