LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The University of Oxford plans to test its COVID-19 vaccine in children for the first time, becoming the latest vaccine developer to assess whether its coronavirus shot is effective in young people.
The trial, announced this weekend, is recruiting 300 volunteers in Britain between the ages of six and 17, with up to 240 receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and the remainder a control meningitis vaccine.
The Oxford vaccine is being produced and distributed by AstraZeneca.
The chief researcher says that while most children don’t get severely ill from COVID-19, it is important to establish the immune response of those who might benefit from inoculation.
Regulators in more than 50 countries have authorized widespread use of the Oxford vaccine, for use in people over the age of 18.
The chief researcher said the Oxford trial should help policymakers decide whether at some point in the future they want to extend mass vaccination programs to children as they seek to ensure schools are safe and combat the spread of the virus in the wider population.
“We know that with all vaccines that people can feel a bit unwell in the first few days,” Andrew Pollard, Oxford Vaccine Group director said. “We just need to be able to establish that profile in children, and so that if the vaccine was authorized for a wider age range, the parents and the young people can be in full knowledge of exactly what side effects they might expect.”
Pollard said policy decisions about how vaccines might be used in children are not for them to decide. Those are questions that will have to be addressed by policy makers in different countries.
In the US, Pfizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines are being tested in children as young as 12.