The US government has started pushing its effort to vaccinate millions of people before the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates further. However, on the other hand, health experts and drugmakers have turned their attention to vaccinating children to achieve herd immunity. A top Infectious Disease Expert in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that as per the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they will be able to vaccinate children against the COVID19 by late spring. Although kids are at a lower risk of developing severe COVID19 disease as compared to adults, they can easily catch the virus and spread the disease without showing any symptoms. Fauci has calculated that the herd immunity threshold against the disease might be between 70 to 85 percent of the population. It means that people who have already been infected with the virus or have been vaccinated have a high enough protection level to prevent further spread of the virus. As a quarter of the population in the US is under 18 years, herd immunity will need vaccination of at least some children, said the experts. More than 31 million people in the US have been vaccinated with the first dose of a COVID19 vaccine as of now.
Experts have said that in coming weeks the vaccine rollout plan will include people beyond elderly people and health care workers. None of the vaccines have been approved by the FDA for children in the US. Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine has been approved to be used for people in the age group of 16 years and above. While the Moderna vaccine has been authorized for people who are in the age range of 18 years and above. Both drug-manufacturing firms have started testing their vaccine in the trials for children as young as 12 years. As per the report, Moderna has been finding it difficult to find enough participants for its trial. Experts have said that these trials need children who are younger than 18 and 16 years. Most of the doses of vaccines, which are used in children age population, are not as strong as what experts use in adult and older population and the doses of vaccines that are made for children, are given at different dosages. Experts need to make sure that two doses of the vaccines are still essential for children. If these trials are successful, a coronavirus vaccine will be tested on the younger population. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that in the next couple of months, experts are going to conduct trials in an age de-escalation mode.
Health experts in the US have said that vaccinating young children is not just a matter of developing herd immunity, since some children do fall severely ill and need medical care. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 2.6 million children in the US have been diagnosed with COVID19 so far. Around 1.2 to 2.9 percent of children have been hospitalized due to the disease. The approval of a COVID19 vaccine for children might help in President Joe Biden’s target to reopen schools. However, experts have said that children in the age group of 6 years and below might have to wait for the vaccine a little longer as there is very little data from the clinical trials. In 2021, more people in the age group of 16 years and above will be vaccinated to achieve some herd immunity. This year, vaccines for young children in the age range of 12 years and above and 8 or 6 years and above will be approved.