The Omicron variant, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer, was 73% effective in protecting children under 5 during the spring surge, the company announced on Tuesday.
The United States began its vaccination campaign for infants, toddlers and preschool children in June after months of delay. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that as of mid-August, only about 6% of children aged 6 months to 5 years had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Health officials authorized the dosage of vaccines for children developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech based on a study that showed they were safe and produced high levels of antibodies against the virus. But there was only preliminary data on how this translated into effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19.
The current study of Pfizer’s three-dose vaccine looked at new updates on COVID-19 diagnoses reported between March and June. Of the 351 cases of children in the control group, 21 cases of COVID-19 were reported, while only 13 infections were among the 794 youth who received three doses of the vaccine.
The children’s cases were mainly due to the BA.2 version of omicron that was circulating at the time. Today, the BA.5 version of Omicron is responsible for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States and much of the world.
In older children and adults, COVID-19 vaccines have long been used to show that they provide strong protection against serious illness and death. Still, scientists track initial efficacy rates as further evidence of how well vaccines perform, and for clues as to how well they initially potentiate against new variants. .
This week, Pfizer asked US regulators to authorize modified vaccine doses, which are preferable to the new Omicron variant, for 12-year-olds to be given as boosters at the end of the year. The company said it is also developing updated vaccines for children under the age of 12.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.