In her day job, immunologist Zina Maayong weighs in on the data on how well cells in the immune system can work to fight cancer.
But after leaving her job at the Stanford Cancer Cell Therapy Program, she returned to bottles, baths and bedtime stories as the mother of two cherubim boys. And that’s how he found himself in unfamiliar circumstances – on the patient side of the consultant’s table for a clinical trial.
Good’s 3-year-old son, Andel, became the first child at Stanford Medicine to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in April, while clinical trials for the under-12 set are ongoing. A week later, Good’s younger son, Soren, who was still 7 months old, was also vaccinated.
“We know that at least 4 million children have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic. There have been thousands of hospitalizations and between 300 and 600 children have died,” said Drs. Yvonne Maldonado, chief investigator and Taube Professor of Global Health and Infectious Diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“We also know that people with COVID-19 can have long-term health effects, and vaccination may prevent that from happening,” Maldonado said. “Children under 18 represent a quarter of the U.S. population – if you really want to prevent the virus, you really want children to be safely vaccinated.”
The Pfizer vaccine is already in use for children 12 and older, and Moderna announced last week that the vaccine is safe and appears to be effective as well for that age group.
That leaves children under 12 as the final limit.
Taking the right dose for three levels of young people – ages 5 to 11, 2 to 5, and 6 months to 2 years – is the first line of business.
The Pfizer study will involve more than 4,600 children and most are full. Moderna’s study now recruits more than 7,000 children.
Experts expect emergency use permits – which differ from full approval – to start rolling out from the Food and Drug Administration in the fall. Tough questions about who should get vaccines – all American children whose parents are ready? the most at -risk children, so people who are most at risk anywhere can get the vaccine first? – could be an issue of intense debate.
COVID-19 in children ‘real’
“The problem with COVID-19 in children is real. I’m constantly trying to promote that,” said Dr. Brigham Willis, professor of pediatrics at UC Riverside. “It hurts when I hear people say, ‘Oh, those. kid. They’re never COVID. They’re just fine. ‘”
Often, Willis says, they don’t.
After exposure to the virus, a small number of children develop “multisystem inflammatory syndrome,” or MIS-C, a serious condition that involves inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and / or joints. gastrointestinal organ. More than 4,000 children have post-COVID-19 MIS-C in the U.S., of which nearly 40 have died.
Forty isn’t a lot of numbers, according to Willis – unless one of them is your child.
“It can be a serious problem, and vaccination can help prevent it,” Willis said. “We all want to get through the pandemic. The only way to do that is to include children in the immunization plan.”
Pediatric COVID-19 cases hit short numbers, but still rose to nearly 40,000 U.S. cases in a week at the end of this month, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
That’s about 20% of new cases.
Experts say it’s important to end the child’s tests. “We need the data,” Jain said. “And once it comes out, we need to approve it for the child’s indications as soon as possible.”
The skeptics challenged the vaccinations
There are those who doubt the vaccine feel differently.
On May 21, a group of such skeptics – including Drs. Simone Gold of Beverly Hills, who was arrested for occupying the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6-has accused the federal government of stopping COVID-19 vaccines in children.
“(T) he injections are dangerous biological agents that have the potential to cause greater harm than COVID-19 disease itself, and many laws have been violated in the process of administering them (permits for use in an emergency) and push these injections. American people, “the group said in an 80-page petition stating that there is no real emergency, the case and death numbers are” much lower “than reported and COVID-19 posed no threat to children under 16.
“Way off base,” Willis said shaking his head. “Current data account for the safety and efficacy of mRNA-based vaccines for each patient population. In adolescents, the data show nearly 100% efficacy that is, literally, almost nonexistent. effects. ”
Vaccines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, are our best protection against infectious diseases, but no vaccine is 100% safe or effective for everyone, because each person’s body reacts differently. Clinical trials are how scientists know what to do. This is how vaccines are made for smallpox, for polio, for measles, for COVID-19. Children about tests.
Never before have hundreds of millions of people been vaccinated in such a short period of time, which is very good, has been proven to have fewer side effects, and is more watchable, scientists say.
Vaccine safety ‘unmatched’
“This one has already been shown to be safer than any other vaccine ever made. It’s unmatched,” said Willis, whose own children, ages 14 and 16, have been vaccinated. “The effectiveness and safety of vaccines is a huge human improvement. “
Stanford’s Malfordado said he was reading a book called “Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer,” which writes about how life expectancy has doubled over the past 100 years thanks to little things that aren’t ‘ y respect for people – sewers, antibiotics, vaccines.
“A little over a year ago, we didn’t know about this virus,” he said. “Today, we have a lot of effective vaccines, all made with the right ethical standards. A third of a billion doses are administered in the U.S., and a billion worldwide. It is much safer and very effective. These vaccines are unique. “
Children should be part of the vaccination plan, he said. Even if they are not severely ill from the virus, they can still pass it on to others who may become more ill – and children can also become incubators where the virus morphs into more deadly forms.
Sharing the vaccine
Some doubt whether America’s youngest children, who are at low risk, should be vaccinated while the highest-risk seniors and overseas health care workers are still waiting their turn.
These decisions need to be weighed carefully, according to Jain.
“We need to make sure that young children who are at risk of covering up – such as those with diabetes and sickle cell anemia – especially patients who are unresponsive and disproportionately carry this disease, “he said.
Even the vast majority of vaccine makers still hope to reach 400 million doses per month by the end of December. To reach a 70% goal of the entire world’s population, as we did with polio and bulbul – I don’t think it’s possible, at least in the short term.
“What has been achieved is to vaccinate enough people to prevent diversity,” Jain said. “There has to be a distribution of the vaccine.”