Europe to start vaccinations in children one week ahead of schedule

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EU-wide application of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine to children ages five to 11 will begin on Dec. 13, a week ahead of schedule, Germany’s Ministry of Health said on Wednesday (01).

Germany is expected to receive 2.4 million pediatric doses for use in two doses, the ministry said, adding that the folder has a commitment to the manufacturer’s new date.

“Given the current pandemic situation, this is good news for parents and children. Many are eagerly awaiting,” acting health minister Jens Spahn said in a statement.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved last Thursday (25) the use of the Pfizer vaccine for this group of children. The European regulator said that “the benefits outweigh the risks, especially in those who have conditions that increase the risk of a serious case of Covid-19”.

The immunizing agent has already been approved on the continent for teenagers from 12 to 17 years old since May. For children aged 5 to 11 years, a special formulation of the vaccine dose must be administered. While adults receive 30 micrograms per dose, the pediatric dose should contain 10 micrograms per application.

Pfizer claims that its immunizing agent is 90.7% effective in this group. The initial expectation was that the company would start delivering the first pediatric doses to European countries from December 20th, but the German government claims that the deadline was brought forward.

The rush to accelerate the vaccination campaign in this age group comes at the same time as the world is trying to understand the scale and threat of the new variant of the Ômicron coronavirus. The strain has already been identified in at least 22 countries, and it was recently discovered that it was already in Europe before South Africa reported the variant to WHO.

This Tuesday (30), the panic caused by Ômicron collaborated with the retreat of European stock exchanges. The FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.95% to 1,792 points, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.92% to 463 points after falling 1.6% during the session to a seven-week low.

Vaccines designed to target Ômicron, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, can be approved in three to four months if necessary, the head of the European Union’s drug regulator said on Tuesday.

While vaccines have so far proved “effective against circulating variants”, there is a need to “understand whether or not this will be the case” with Ômicron, said Emer Cooke, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), to European Parliament.

A two-week laboratory testing process must first occur to establish whether the current crop of vaccines offers protection against Omicron, Cooke said.

Health officials will also have to consider how the European situation compares to South Africa, Cooke said, noting that some of the key factors are the older age of the European population in Europe, the availability of vaccines and the use of booster doses. .

If there is a need to change current vaccines, companies will have to adapt their formulations to include the new sequencing, Cooke said. She added that the EMA is working with pharmaceutical companies and other regulators to ensure they are “as prepared and ready as possible.”

* With information from Reuters

See Covid-19 vaccinations around the world:

Reference: CNN Brasil

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