Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was 73% effective in protecting children younger than 5 as Omicron spread in the spring, the company announced Tuesday.
The United States opened vaccinations for children as young as six months old in June, after months of delay. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 6% of children aged 6 months-to-4 years had received at least one COVID-19 vaccination by mid August.
Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s vaccine doses were approved by the health authorities based upon a study that showed they are safe and produce high levels of antiviral antibodies. However, there were no data to show that this would have any effect on symptomatic COVID-19.
There were 21 COVID-19 cases among the 351 tots who got dummy shots—compared to just 13 among the 794 youngsters given three vaccine doses.
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BA.2 Omicron, which was in circulation at the time, caused most of the child cases. BA.5, an Omicron related, causes most COVID-19 cases worldwide.
In older children and adults, the COVID-19 vaccines have been used long enough to prove that they remain strongly protective against severe disease and death even as the coronavirus mutates—while early protection against infection wanes. Still, scientists track that initial effectiveness rate as extra evidence of vaccine performance—and to look for signs of how they initially hold up against new mutants.
Pfizer asked the U.S. government to approve modified doses of vaccine that are more compatible with Omicron versions for adults 12 years and over as boosters. Pfizer also stated that it is working on updated shots for children under 12 years old.
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