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Booster of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine in five to 11 year olds sparked 36-fold antibody surge
A third dose of Pfizer‘s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 raises Omicron-fighting antibody levels 36-fold, the jabs manufacturer said today.
The New York City-based pharmaceutical giant said its results ‘reinforce’ offering children top-up jabs to ‘maintain’ protection against the virus.
But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — vaccine regulator in the U.S. — has warned it will not approve extra shots for the age group until more are fully vaccinated.
America could become one of the first countries in the world to approve Covid boosters for over-5s, behind Italy which authorized them for the age group in December.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for use among five to 11-year-olds in the U.S. as a first and second dose. The Moderna and Janssen shots — also used in the vaccine roll out — are only approved for over-18s.
Pfizer announced today that a third dose of its Covid vaccine raised Omicron-fighting antibody levels 36-fold among children aged five to 11. Drug regulators in the U.S. are yet to approve a third dose of the Covid jab for this age group
In clinical trials, 130 children aged between five and 11 years old were given a third dose about six months after their second shot.
Of that group, 30 then had their blood serum tested for antibodies against the virus a month later.
Omicron-fighting antibody levels jumped 36-fold during this period, Pfizer reports, while those against the original Covid strain rose six-fold.
Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is just 12% effective in preventing Omicron infection
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has done little to protect five- to 11- year-olds from infection from the Omicron variant, data revealed by New York state officials on Monday shows.
Researchers at the New York State Department Health gauged infection rates of minors who have had the Pfizer jab made available to them. Children were split into two age groups, one of children five to 11 and the other for children 12 to 17.
They found that the two-dose Pfizer shot was only 12 percent effective at preventing Omicron infection in the younger age group only one month after receival.
The findings have far reaching implications on the use of the vaccines, and whether parents will want to get their children jabbed.
Children do not suffer much of a risk from the virus, with hospitalizations and deaths being especially rare.
Children are at a vanishingly low risk from Covid, with official statistics showing 980 deaths in the age group have involved the virus since the pandemic began.
For comparison, among over-85s who are most at risk from the virus 252,928 have Covid mentioned on their death certificates — or 258 times more people.
Vaccine uptake among under-11s is patchy with just 30 percent being fully inoculated. Just half of children over 12 have received three doses.
The FDA has already approved a third dose of the Covid vaccine for five to 11 year olds who are immunocompromised.
Pfizer tested its Covid vaccine in the age group during Phase 2/3 clinical trials.
It used a 10 microgram (ug) booster dose, about a third of the one offered to adults. This is the same amount used in first and second doses for children.
Following the results, Pfizer said it would now apply for Emergency Use Authorization for the booster in the age group in the U.S. and in Europe.
The study did not look at how effective the third dose was at stopping under-11s from catching Covid.
It was not clear whether any study participants had previously recovered from Covid.
It also was not clear which strain of Omicron the antibodies were tested against.
Italy is one of the only countries in the world already offering boosters to five to 11-year-olds.
In February a paper suggested two doses of the vaccine were only 12 percent effective against infection with Omicron among under-11s.
Researchers at New York State Health Department monitored 360,000 five to 11 year olds who had received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine at the height of the Omicron wave.
They found that within 34 days after receiving the second dose, vaccine effectiveness against infection with the super-infectious variant waned from 67 to 11 per cent.
But for the 500,000 12 to 17-year-olds who were also monitored in the study, waning over the same time period was from 66 to 51 percent.
Parents are able to get their children double-vaccinated to protect them against Covid.
But concerns have been raised over the vanishingly rare side-effect of heart inflammation following a jab, which is more likely among young boys.
Most cases clear up on their own without issue, scientists say.
Pfizer’s profits have risen sharply during the pandemic as it cashes in on the Covid jab. Johnson & Johnson still had the highest revenue.
A study from October of last year also found that around half of pediatric Covid cases are asymptomatic, and that was before the more mild Omicron variant became dominant in the U.S.
When infected, children also release lower totals of virus particles into the air, making them less likely to spread the virus, a study published by a German research team found.