Phoenix among US locations for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trials on children | Cronkite News

Moderna’s two-dose vaccine against COVID-19 has been approved for adults since December. The company is currently conducting studies on the drug’s effectiveness in children. A study is to take place in Phoenix. In this January photo, a sergeant in the Wyoming Army National Guard draws a dose of the Moderna vaccine for one shot. (Photo by Jacqueline Marshall / Wyoming National Guard)

WASHINGTON – Children aged 6 months to 12 years old could soon get the COVID-19 vaccine in Phoenix to test the drug’s effectiveness in young people.

Drug maker Moderna announced this week that Phoenix will be one of the cities testing smaller doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently only approved for adults, on teenagers. The company has already started trials of the vaccine on teenagers.

While children have been shown to be less susceptible to the disease, health experts say it is important to have the option of a vaccine for younger children when schools reopen, and to improve the chances of “herd immunity” for the general population.

“The reason we want to make sure that all of these children are vaccinated is so that we can really achieve herd immunity. We don’t want to have little pockets of people who are potentially contagious and unsafe, ”said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, director of the American Public Health Association.

The first trials were announced Tuesday by Moderna, one of three drug companies with vaccines approved for emergency use in adults in the United States, along with Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses, while the newer Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a one-dose protocol.

The announcement came the same day the Arizona Department of Health announced that just over 1 million Arizonans had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. In total, the state has given roughly 2.6 million doses to just over 1.6 million people.

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Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement that more than 53 million doses of his company’s vaccine version have been administered in the United States. “This pediatric study will help us evaluate the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population. “The statement said the new trials would take place in the US and Canada.

Dr. Steven Plimpton, the lead investigator for the Phoenix process, said Tuesday his office had “received hundreds of calls” from parents interested in bringing their children into the process. He said parents interested in the Phoenix trial can visit the KidCOVE website for more information or call 602-368-1928 or 866-913-5454.

An expert from the University of Arizona said it will likely take a while for the trials to get underway.

“I would say sometime in the next few weeks when they are recruited on board and initially have critical mass and all aspects of the study in terms of location, staff and everything they need are in place,” said Dr. Shad Marvasti, director of public health and prevention at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Moderna said children in the first phase of the study will be given doses of 25, 50, or 100 micrograms of the vaccine – an adult dose is 100 – depending on their age. The results of this phase will be used to determine the dosages in a second phase, if the subjects are given a placebo.

Ultimately, Moderna expects to include 6,750 children in the latest studies.

“The adult dose for the Moderna is 100 micrograms, but they start with 25 micrograms and then basically watch people and children to see how they react,” Marvasti said. “If that looks good and there aren’t any major problems, they’ll have a group of kids on 50 micrograms in the study, and if that looks okay, they’ll have another group of 100 micrograms.”

He added that Moderna’s confidence that the vaccine is safe enough to begin trials with children could have the added benefit of helping, among other things, suppress vaccine hesitation.

“Hopefully, depending on the results, it will help people feel more confident about the vaccine, especially if it is just as safe and effective in children as it is in adults,” said Marvasti.

The announcement of the youth exams also comes because the state has ordered schools to start in-person school again after a year in which most students have attended classes virtually.

Benjamin said that with schools reopening in Arizona and the United States, a youth vaccine would make a huge difference in fighting the virus, as it would prevent children from spreading each other and then taking it home. The vaccination would also speed up the children’s ability to return to normal.

“I think getting children vaccinated will certainly improve their quality of life and their ability to interact effectively with their friends,” he said.

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