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AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to be trialled in children

Published on 15/02/21 at 10:54am

The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is to be tested on children in the UK in a new trial commencing this month.

Building on previous trials of the vaccine in adults, this study will assess the efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab in children aged between six and 17. The company’s coronavirus vaccine is currently only authorised for use in those aged 18 or older in the UK.

The single-blind, randomised Phase II trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and AstraZeneca, will enrol 300 volunteers. Up to 240 of the trial participants will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while the remainder will be given a control meningitis vaccine, which has been shown to be safe in children but is expected to produce similar reactions, such as a sore arm.

The trial’s four study sites are the University of Oxford, St George's University Hospital in London, University Hospital Southampton, and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. The first vaccinations are expected to begin later this month.

Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, and Chief Investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination. These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups.”

Rinn Song, Paediatrician and Clinician-Scientist, Oxford Vaccine Group, also commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound negative impact on the education, social development and emotional well-being of children and adolescents, beyond illness and rare severe disease presentations.

“It is therefore important to collect data on the safety and the immune response to our coronavirus vaccine in these age groups, so that they could potentially benefit from inclusion in vaccination programs in the near future.”

Darcy Jimenez

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