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BioNTech hopes to start vaccinating 12-15-year-olds from June

BioNTech hopes to start vaccinating 12-15-year-olds from June

BioNTech hopes to start vaccinating 12-15-year-olds from June

The German biotechnology company BioNTech has said that it expects its vaccine against COVID-19 to be approved for use on 12-to-15-year-olds in Europe as soon as June. 

BioNTech seeking approval to use vaccine on children

Currently, the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine is only approved for use on adults and teenagers over the age of 16, but the company is making rapid progress with its clinical trials involving younger age groups. Boss Uğur Şahin believes that the vaccine could soon be approved for use on children as well.  

“We have submitted the study data for 12-to-15-year-olds for conditional approval in the US,” Şahin told the Spiegel. “In Europe we are in the final stretches before submission.” He said he expects to submit the request to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) next Wednesday, and that, if all goes to plan, the first young people could be vaccinated as soon as June. 

Vaccinating children crucial to achieving herd immunity

While most countries around the world are focusing efforts on vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable, followed by the wider adult population, vaccinating children is seen as a crucial next step for achieving herd immunity and thus ending the pandemic.

Beyond this, vaccinating children and thus reducing the risk of transmission in schools would relieve the burden on parents who have been forced to homeschool their children for a significant portion of the year, while also holding down their regular jobs. “It’s very important to enable children a return to their normal school lives and allow them to meet with family and friends,” Şahin said. 

In March this year, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that their vaccine had proven 100 percent effective in preventing coronavirus infections among children aged 12 - 15 in phase 2 clinical trials. They are now looking to get the jab approved for younger children as well. “In July, the first results for five to 12-year-olds could be available, and those for younger children in September,” Şahin said, adding that the results so far have been “very encouraging.”  

The latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute show that infections among children and adolescents have been rising rapidly since February. The seven-day incidence rate among those under 15 is currently almost 200. A few days ago, SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach tweeted that children, adolescents and their parents are now at the centre of the pandemic.

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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