Health

Trials of Covid vaccine in children as young as five set to begin


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rials are set to start on children as young as five of the Covid-19 vaccine which could be key to keeping schools open after the summer, a leading expert revealed today.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of trials in children we have got one study under way and no problems so far, just using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in teenagers, and expecting shortly to be given the go-ahead to start recruiting younger children from the age of five.”

The Bristol University professor of paediatrics, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, expects decisions later in the summer on whether it will be necessary to give jabs to children, once the impact of the vaccine roll-out in adults is clearer.

“The important aspect of that for children is that we desperately want to keep schools open into the next academic year and avoid any further disruption to education,” he added, stating that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

He explained that he would not be “comfortable” immunising children just for the benefit of others given that they are unlikely to suffer severe coronavirus disease.

“But if it does look as though it’s necessary, that will be driven by the observation that the virus is still circulating and there is jeopardy for children in terms of disruption to their education,” he continued.

“So, I think that probably squares the circle if it does prove necessary.”

  • Professor Finn strongly defended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which Germany has suspended for the under sixties because of concerns it may be linked to very rare cases of blood clots, with France and Canada taking similar steps. The expert said: “The risks of Covid, and of blood clots indeed caused by Covid, are massively greater than the risks that may conceivably exist as a result of receiving this vaccine.”
  • An estimated 1.1 million people in private households in the UK reported experiencing “long Covid” in the four weeks to March 6, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.
  • Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would encourage people in Wales to holiday in the UK over the summer instead of a trip abroad.
  • Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the new UK Health Security Agency, said that Britain and other countries had learned that they needed to be able to respond faster in future to pandemics. “We need something which is proportionate to the problems we have and scalable very rapidly,” she said.
  • Divisions opened in the European Union’s attempts to block vaccines to Britain after former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned against “polemics and competition”, while a senior commissioner, Thierry Breton, laid claim to the output of two major plants, adding:  “There is no negotiation.”
  • France was plunged into its third national lockdown with a curfew and three weeks of school closures. French President Emmanuel Macron said in a TV address:  “We will lose control if we do not move now.” 
  • The vaccine roll-out in London has “flipped” to delivering more second doses than first shots, official figures revealed.
  • They show 33,120 more second doses were announced yesterday to have been administered in the capital, taking the total so far to 391,826. The number of first inoculations announced yesterday was up 21,785, increasing the total to 3,175,857.
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Boris Johnson has warned of the likelihood that the third wave sweeping countries in continental Europe will “wash up on our shores”.

Scientists expect it will spread mainly among the unvaccinated, but also including those for whom the vaccines do not fully protect. Pfizer said earlier this week that trials of its Covid vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 showed 100 per cent efficacy and a strong immune response



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