In the later phase of the trial that studied more than 2,200 U.S. youth, not a single vaccinated person was infected with COVID-19, Pfizer said in a press release. The results suggest that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be more effective in those 12 to 15 years of age than in adults.
Pfizer has not yet released test data. The company plans to submit the results to the FDA in the coming weeks, according to chief executive Albert Bourla, “with the hope of starting vaccinating this age group before the start of next school year.”
If it wins emergency approval, the Pfizer vaccine will be the first in the United States to be given to children under 16. Public health experts believe that vaccinating children may be essential to achieving “herd immunity”-when so many people are resistant to COVID-19 the virus is no longer effective in spreading. President Joe Biden has called for vaccination of students of high school age through the fall in the United States and elementary schools as early as 2022, if test results as announced by Pfizer show that the vaccines are actually safe and effective among them.
Pfizer reported that the trial showed the vaccine was safe in 12- to 15-year-olds, with side effects “generally consistent with those observed in participants aged 16 to 25 years.”
Pfizer vaccine first allowed for emergency use for people 16 and up in December, and more than 75 million doses have been given to Americans since then. A clinical trial found last fall to be 95% effective in reducing COVID-19 infections in adults; a recent study showed the same 90% effectiveness results in “real world“since its permission.
In the announcement, Pfizer also said it has already started vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 in a global related trial and will begin next week to give it to a group of children aged 2 hangtod 5.