Moderna’s vaccine triggers strong immune response in children, firm says

In trial of 4,753 participants, side-effects mostly mild to moderate, Moderna says

Moderna said on Monday its Covid-19 vaccine generated a strong immune response in children aged six to 11 years and that it planned to submit the data to global regulators soon.

The US pharma giant said its two-dose vaccine generated virus-neutralising antibodies in children and safety was comparable to what was previously seen in clinical trials of adolescents and adults. It cited interim data that had yet to be peer reviewed.

It was unclear when US regulators would weigh in on the shot. The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is authorised for adults over 18 and is waiting for a response to its June application for children aged 12-17.

It is behind rivals Pfizer and BioNTech SE, whose vaccine has been authorised for ages 12 and up since May. A panel of outside advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to recommend Pfizer’s vaccine in children aged five to 11.


Injection site pain

Moderna said that, in its trial of 4,753 participants, side-effects were mostly mild to moderate in severity. The most common side-effects were fatigue, headache, fever and injection site pain.

The company statement did not disclose any new information about cases of heart inflammation called myocarditis, a known side-effect of mRNA vaccines.

The shots were 50 microgram doses, half the strength used in the primary vaccine series for adults and the same as the booster dose authorised for adults. It is higher than the 10 microgram dose Pfizer is planning for its vaccine in children.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have been linked to myocarditis in young men.

Risk of myocarditis

Some studies have suggested the rate of incidence in recipients of the Moderna vaccine may be higher than in Pfizer recipients, perhaps because of the stronger dose of vaccine.

Sweden has paused the use of the Moderna vaccine for younger age groups because of the higher risk of myocarditis.

While children rarely become seriously ill or die from Covid-19, some do develop rare complications, and Covid-19 cases in unvaccinated children have risen due to the contagious Delta variant.

Children can also spread the virus, infecting those who are not protected by vaccines and giving the virus more room to develop new variations.

Moderna shares rose 2 per cent in morning trading. – Reuters