Pfizer is already testing its vaccine on children as young as five (and soon will test it on children as young as six months), but the first results from the company's trial on an older cohort of minors have just arrived, and unsurprisingly, the data showed the vaccines were 100% effective at protecting children from COVID-19.
To be sure, children are believed to be strongly resilient to COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus, naturally, although there have been cases of child fatalities attributed to COVID.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company is planning to submit the new data on the vaccine (developed in partnership with German drugmaker BioNTech) to the FDA "as soon as possible" as the company hopes that kids in the age group will be able to get vaccinated before the start of the new school year.
"We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15," Bourla said in a press release.
The trial enrolled 2,260 participants in the United States. There were 18 confirmed Covid-19 infections observed in the placebo group and no confirmed infections in the group that received the vaccine, the company said. Side effects were generally consistent in what was seen in adults.
The company also said the vaccine elicited a “robust” antibody response in children, exceeding those recorded earlier in vaccinated participants aged 16 to 25 years old.
Children under 18 account for about 23 percent of the population in the United States, so even if a vast majority of adults opt for vaccines, “herd immunity might be hard to achieve without children being vaccinated,” Dr. Erbelding said.
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Read the full press release below:
In participants aged 12-15 years old, BNT162b2 demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those reported in trial of vaccinated 16-25 year old participants in an earlier analysis, and was well tolerated.
The companies plan to submit these data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as soon as possible to request expansion of the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and EU Conditional Marketing Authorization for BNT162b2.
The companies also provided an update on the Phase 1/2/3 study of BNT162b2 in children aged 6 months to 11 years.
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) today announced that, in a Phase 3 trial in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age with or without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those recorded earlier in vaccinated participants aged 16 to 25 years old, and was well tolerated. These are topline results from a pivotal Phase 3 trial in 2,260 adolescents.
“We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer. “We plan to submit these data to FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year."
“Across the globe, we are longing for a normal life. This is especially true for our children. The initial results we have seen in the adolescent studies suggest that children are particularly well protected by vaccination, which is very encouraging given the trends we have seen in recent weeks regarding the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant. It is very important to enable them to get back to everyday school life and to meet friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones,” said Ugur Sahin, CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech.
About the Phase 3 Data from Adolescents 12-15 Years of Age
The trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age in the United States. In the trial, 18 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group (n=1,129) versus none in the vaccinated group (n=1,131). Vaccination with BNT162b2 elicited SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing antibody geometric mean titers (GMTs) of 1,239.5, demonstrating strong immunogenicity in a subset of adolescents one month after the second dose. This compares well (was non-inferior) to GMTs elicited by participants aged 16 to 25 years old (705.1 GMTs) in an earlier analysis. Further, BNT162b2 administration was well tolerated, with side effects generally consistent with those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.
The companies plan to submit these data to the FDA and EMA for a requested amendment to the Emergency Use Authorization of BNT162b2 and the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization for COMIRNATY® to expand use in adolescents 12-15 years of age as quickly as possible. All participants in the trial will continue to be monitored for long-term protection and safety for an additional two years after their second dose.
Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit the data for scientific peer review for potential publication.
Update on the Phase 1/2/3 Study in Children 6 months to 11 years old
Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech dosed the first healthy children in a global Phase 1/2/3 seamless study to further evaluate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 months to 11 years of age. The study is evaluating the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on a two-dose schedule (approximately 21 days apart) in three age groups: children aged 5 to 11 years, 2 to 5 years, and 6 months to 2 years. The 5 to 11 year-old cohort started dosing last week and the companies plan to initiate the 2 to 5 year-old cohort next week.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, BNT162b2, has not been approved or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of the medical product under Section 564 (b) (1) of the FD&C Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner. Please see Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) including Full EUA Prescribing Information available at www.cvdvaccine.com.
The vaccine, which is based on BioNTech proprietary mRNA technology, was developed by both BioNTech and Pfizer. BioNTech is the Marketing Authorizations Holder in the European Union, and the holder of emergency use authorizations or equivalent in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries in advance of a planned application for full marketing authorizations in these countries.
AUTHORIZED USE IN THE U.S.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for active immunization to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in individuals 16 years of age and older.