Students as young as first grade might be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted in an interview published by ProPublica on Thursday.
Fauci cited clinical trials now underway in the U.S. from vaccine developers Pfizer and Moderna to test the safety and efficacy of the doses in children. He had said previously that the Food and Drug Administration might allow for vaccinations in American children “by the time we get to the late spring and early summer.”
So far, except for a handful of errors, the nationwide vaccine rollout has not included children.
Based on the initial research submitted by Pfizer, theof that vaccine for recipients ages 16 and up. are authorized for ages 18 and up.
Now, Fauci said in the interview, “We’re in the process of starting clinical trials in what we call age de-escalation, where you do a clinical trial with people 16 to 12, then 12 to 9, then 9 to 6.”
Earlier this year, federal officials encouraged families to participate in clinical trials being launched by the drugmakers for younger subjects, which will start with adolescents and then later expand to include younger children.
“It’s really very important for all of us, for all the population in America, to realize that we can’t have that indication unless adolescents age 12 to 18 decide to participate,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of the Trump administration’s vaccine effort, said at a press conference in January.
Spokespeople for both vaccine developers confirmed to CBS News the estimated timelines for their trials in adolescents, which were first reported by ProPublica. Pfizer expects data for their doses in 12- to 15-year-olds by “the early part of 2021,” while Moderna says data from 12- to 17-year-old subjects will be in by “around mid-year 2021.”
Fauci’s comments come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to release new guidance Friday for the safer reopening of K-12 schools.
The CDC’s guidance for schools is expected to echo many of the mitigation recommendations already laid out by the agency, such as ensuring that teachers and students , maintain proper social distancing and practice good “hand hygiene.” Guidelines for implementing a strong contact tracing program and isolating and quarantining are also expected be included.
The CDC has cited research from classrooms that were able to reopen or remain open through the pandemic last year with few cases of COVID-19 and most students reporting wearing masks.
Though public health experts have said vaccines are not needed in order to conduct in-person classes, the CDC acknowledged last week that immunizations could help schools return to some of the school activities — like indoor sports or competitions — that have been linked to outbreaks.
Children are generally considered to be at lower risk from COVID-19 than adults, but they can still catch it and spread it to others. Many children experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, but some have gotten severely ill or developed longer-term health problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports there have been more than 2.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in children and at least 227 deaths.
“With 2 vaccines now being distributed under Emergency Use Authorizations and more vaccine options anticipated to be available in the coming months, there is much hope on the horizon,” top CDC officials wrote last month.
The agency has already this week updated several other parts of its COVID-19 guidance, including a recommendation Wednesday to wear a cloth mask over a disposable mask and now allowing for some fully vaccinated Americans to skip quarantine requirements.