Pfizer-BioNTech Covid Vaccine Is 73% Effective In Young Children, Study Finds

Topline

Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine is effective in preventing illness from Covid-19 in nearly three in four young children and it provides protection across Covid-19 variants, according to a new results released on Tuesday, reinforcing previous data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in young children as the more virulent omicron variants have become the dominant strains in the United States.

Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine is effective in nearly three quarters of children ages 6 … [+] months to 4 years, according to a study. (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

The study from Pfizer and BioNTech found that three doses of the mRNA vaccine prevent illness in 73.2% of children ages 6 months to 4 years, slightly less than the 80.3% efficacy rate BioNTech found in April among children 6 months to 5 years, before the BA.5 subvariant became the predominant strain in the U.S.

The study comes as Pfizer and BioNTech ask for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for an omicron-specific bivalent vaccine for children 6 months to 11 years, which would specifically target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Researchers in the study relied on data from 34 cases that lasted at least seven days between March and June, and found the vast majority of cases in the study were Omicron BA.2, BA.4 and BA. 5.

The study found a higher efficacy rate among children ages 6 months to 2 years (75.8%), than it did with children ages 2 to 4 (71.8%).

The majority of adverse effects in young children from the vaccine were “mild or moderate,” researchers found.

Key Background

Children as young as 6 months have been eligible for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for more than two months, following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization, leaving only children under 6 months ineligible for the vaccine—although parents of young children have been reluctant to vaccinate their kids. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 6 months to 2 years are the least vaccinated in the U.S., at 3.4% with at least one dose, while only 5.7% of children ages 2 to 4 years have received at least one dose.

Tangent

Covid-19 cases have been on the decline in the U.S for the past several weeks, according to the CDC, although there are still more than 88,000 cases per day, more than 5,000 new hospitalizations and 390 deaths per day, on average. Vaccination rates among children, however, remain low, even as CDC data finds the omicron variant could leave some children vulnerable to severe disease and hospitalization. Only one in five parents of children under 5 said in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in May that they will vaccinate their kids as soon as they become available, while 38% said they would rather wait. The CDC currently recommends vaccines for everyone over six months, and boosters for children five years and older.

What To Watch For

Pfizer and BioNTech on Friday asked the FDA to grant an emergency use authorization for their omicron-specific Covid booster. Pfizer has said the new vaccine has shown a strong antibody response against the Omicron variants as well as the original strain of the coronavirus in preclinical data.

Further Reading

Teens’ Protection From Pfizer’s Covid Shot Fades Weeks After Vaccination—But Shot Still Wards Off Serious Illness, Study Finds (Forbes)

Around 1 In 16 Children Develop Long Covid, Study Suggests (Forbes)

Pfizer and BioNTech seek FDA authorization for updated Covid-19 booster (CNN)

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