Children May Not Have A Coronavirus Vaccine Until Late 2021

Children May Not Have A Coronavirus Vaccine Until Late 2021

children vaccine
Children Will Not Likely See A Coronavirus Vaccine Until Late 2021. Photo by Hira Sundus on Unsplash

Drug companies and governments are racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine for adults, but are behind in finding one that is safe and effective for children, health experts told ABC News.

None of the major covid-19 vaccine trials in the U.S. are enrolling kids except Pfizer, which recently announced it would expand its trials to include 16- and 17-year-olds, according to Dr. Steven Joffe, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

If everything goes perfectly, the U.S. might have a vaccine ready for children by June 2021, according to Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But it might be harder to conduct vaccine studies for children than adults because lower symptomatic covid-19 in children means trials might have to be even bigger than those for adults to demonstrate the vaccine works.

The youngest people in the U.S. may not be vaccinated until late next year, health experts told ABC.

In the largest study ever of covid-19 transmission patterns, researchers in India found that children are spreading the virus amongst themselves and to adults.

They tested more than 500,000 contacts of 85,000 people who had the virus to learn how it was spreading, and to whom, NPR reported.

It’s known that children get infected but tend not to get as sick or die at anywhere near the rates of older people. What’s been unclear is how much kids contribute to spreading covid-19 to the rest of the community.

Indian researchers found that children “were likely to get infected, particularly by young adults of the ages of 20 to 40. They were likely to transmit the disease amongst themselves … and then they also go out and infect people of all age groups, including the elderly.”

Infected children were more likely than adults to not show symptoms, and therefore not be recognized as potential carriers.

“(Many) kids are silent spreaders in the sense that they don’t manifest the disease with symptoms,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi and one of the lead authors of the study, published this week in the journal Science. “They happen to get infected as much as anyone else, and then they happen to spread it to other people.”

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Experts said a vaccine should be tested on adults first to ensure it’s safe and effective before being tested on children.

“Kids are not little adults. They have very different immune systems, and you might need to have a completely different kind of vaccine for kids,” said Dr. Anita McElroy, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “To think we could just take one that works in adults and put it in kids and assume it’s going to work fine is actually a foolish thing to do.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics called for children to be included in potential covid-19 vaccine trials in a letter to federal health officials.

They must be included “to best understand any potential immune responses and/or unique safety concerns,” AAP President Dr. Sally Goza wrote.