October 26, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine: Moderna, J&J plan pediatric trials

So far, children have been left out of the race to create a coronavirus vaccine.

That’s not unusual. Drugmakers typically test drugs and vaccines first on adults, before moving to pediatric trials.

But it means that kids probably won’t be able to get the first coronavirus vaccines should they become available, creating a crucial gap in efforts to fight the pandemic. Drugmakers usually need to test a vaccine in children before seeking approval to give the shots to kids.

All four drugmakers who are furthest along in the coronavirus vaccine race told Business Insider that they eventually plan to start testing their shots in kids. But none of them provided an estimate on when a shot could be available for children.

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If everything goes well, adults in the US could start to get a coronavirus vaccine around the end of this year. Initial supplies of any vaccines will be extremely limited, with manufacturing scaling up in 2021.

Here’s what the four drugmakers told us about their plans to test a coronavirus vaccine in kids:

Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotech, said that it plans to start a pediatric trial for its shot before year’s end, pending approval from regulators. Ray Jordan, a company spokesman, added that Moderna doesn’t have anything more to share on the timing, protocols, or funding for pediatric studies “because these regulatory discussions are still underway.”

Read more: There are 176 coronavirus vaccines in the works. Here’s how top drugmakers see the race for a cure playing out in 2020 and 2021 and when the first shots might be available.

Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said J&J is committed to running pediatric trials. Opening studies for children “will come later in the year” after safety is established in adults, Stoffels said on a September 22 call with reporters.

Pfizer is expanding its coronavirus-vaccine trials to 16 and 17 year olds. The company said it’s discussing plans with regulators to study its vaccine in younger people as well.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson said the company would start enrolling children “once sufficient data are gathered in adults” showing that its vaccine could potentially work in kids.

Read more: 5 experts lay out how they’ll determine whether a coronavirus vaccine is really safe and effective — here’s what to know to evaluate the data for yourself

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