The Oxford/AstraZeneca covid vaccine is to conduct trials with 300 volunteers to assess the immune response of children aged six to 17, the company announced on Saturday. This would be the world’s first vaccine trial targeting children. The company’s chief investigator Prof. Andrew Pollard said it was perfectly possible that “some licensed children’s vaccines for covid-19 would be available by the end of the year.”
There is some evidence that children may be less susceptible to the infection and their symptoms may be milder, but their role in transmission is unclear and there are growing concerns about severe long-term damage they may suffer after being infected. The absence of a safe and reliable vaccine for children generates a large unknown factor in the chain of infection worldwide. Of Israel’s population of app, nine million, for instance, some 2 and a half million are children.
Israel’s Health Ministry on Friday jumped the gun on the Oxford firm’s trials by allowing the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to children aged 12 to 15 with serious or life-threatening illnesses.