On Monday, May 23rd, Pfizer-BioNTech announced that its three-dose COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 6 months to 5 years is 80% effective at preventing illness from the Omicron variant. The news comes months after Pfizer pulled its application for approval of the vaccine for this age group in order to get more data on the efficacy of the third dose.
Parents have been waiting for a vaccine for kids in this age group for months and months. And now, with the positive results from Pfizer as well as promising data in Moderna’s vaccine trial for the same age group, they could be on the cusp of getting their children vaccinated.
The new, updated data on the vaccine’s efficacy and safety was collected in a study of 1,678 kids under 5. The kids studied, per CNBC, were given their third shot two months after Omicron began to rise. The kids received three, 3-microgram doses, and kids had mild to moderate side effects against the vaccine.
That the vaccine is 80% effective in preventing Omicron, in particular, is a massive development; when Pfizer pulled their application in February, the vaccine as two doses was less than half as effective. Pfizer will now submit its new data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Associated Press reports.
Though great news that Pfizer’s vaccine is effective, it won’t speed up the timeline of when parents can get their kids vaccinated (except for maybe because there will be more types of under-5 vaccines on the market at once). Indeed, the FDA will look at both the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine at basically the same time in mid-June.
When Moderna announced that it applied to the FDA to get its vaccine approved for kids, they revealed that it was both safe and 51% effective against illness from Omicron in children under 2, and 37% effective for kids aged 2 up to 6 years old.
Although children don’t represent the lion’s share of COVID-19 cases and rarely become seriously ill from COVID-19, the rate of hospitalization of kids in the U.S. increased by four-fold when Omicron hit. Getting kids vaccinated can protect them from the worst of the illness.
Given the timeline of past authorizations of COVID-19 vaccines, if the FDA approves both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines when they review the applications in mid-June, young kids could be getting their first dose in early July.