Moderna will ask Canada to approve its vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 17 after a study of the mRNA vaccine in adolescents found it safe and effective.
The Massachusetts-based vaccine manufacturer said it will present the study results to international regulators in early June.
As global vaccine stocks remain short, much of the world is struggling to vaccinate adults as they strive to end the epidemic. But earlier this month, the United States and Canada legalized another vaccine – one made by Pfizer and BioNTech – for children 12 years and older.
Moderna hopes to be next on the list. The company studied more than 3,700 young people between the ages of 12 and 17. Initial results showed that the vaccine caused the same markers of immune protection in children as in adults, and the same kind of temporary side effects such as arm pain, headache and fatigue.
COVID-19 was not diagnosed in young people who received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, compared to four cases in children who received placebo injections. In a press release, the company also said the vaccine appeared to be 93% effective two weeks after the first dose.
While children are less likely than adults to become seriously ill after contracting COVID-19, they account for about 14% of coronavirus cases in the United States. At least 316 young people have died in the United States alone, according to statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pfizer and Moderna are starting to test even younger children, between the ages of 6 months and 11 years. This test is more complicated: Teens are given the same dose as adults, but researchers are testing lower doses in young children. Experts hope to see results in the fall.
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