By Nikhila Natarajan
New York, Feb 17 | “End of summer, beginning of Fall” is the earliest that US kids under the age of 16 years could get Covid-19 vaccine shots, US President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci told IANS.
Fauci was responding to a question on the state of play of age de-escalation trials during a press availability.
“By the time we get to the end of the summer, the beginning of the Fall, we would hope that we would have at least one of the candidates available for children…By the time we get to the end of the summer, unless we get into some issue with safety and immunogenicity. We don’t anticipate that that will be the case,” Fauci said.
Pfizer and Moderna, the two companies whose vaccines have emergency use authorisation in the US, are approved for use in the over 16 and over 18 age groups, respectively.
“We’ve already started what’s called age de-escalation studies. You do a Phase 1 or Phase 2 A trial, going from 16 to 12, 12 to nine, nine to six, and you show that a vaccine is safe in those individuals and B, you induce an immune response that’s comparable to the level of the immune response that you showed was effective in a normal adult population,” Fauci explained.
Fauci’s comments on vaccines for kids come at a time when Americans are not only getting a strong dose of sunny news, but also a lot of alternative scenarios on school reopenings.
Nearly 30 days in, President Joe Biden is now promising that a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office. So far, the patchwork of virtual or hybrid school arrangements across the country has been chaotic at best.
Last week, the nation’s premier public health agency released its long-awaited guidance called “operational strategy” for getting students back to classrooms in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than 4,90,000 people in the homeland.
Frustration is peaking among the key stakeholders: Teachers, parents and students. Reacting to the latest round of assurances, a high school student from Union County, New Jersey, said, “Why can’t they just tell us when the vaccine is coming instead of giving us colour coded charts!”
Biden’s Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday that the country has enough vaccines to vaccinate 300 million people by the end of July 2021. The new government is averaging 1.7 million shots per day, based on the latest seven-day average of vaccination progress.