First pandemic vaccine for children could be approved in June

BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin told the news magazine Der Spiegel that the company was “in the final stretches” of preparing its submission for European regulatory approval. The evaluation “takes four to six weeks on average”, he said in an interview published on Thursday, adding that the vaccine should be available to 12 to 15-year-olds in Europe by June.

While young people are less likely to suffer severe cases of COVID-19, they are more likely to have an asymptomatic infection, unwittingly transmitting the virus to others. The vaccination of children is seen as the next important step in achieving herd immunity and ending the pandemic. Şahin said BioNTech was about to submit its study data to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is evaluating and providing recommendations on COVID vaccines for the whole EU. He predicted the first vaccinations for this age group could begin in early June. The plan is to then move down age brackets—the younger the child, the smaller the dosage that is required. “In July we can expect the first results for 5- to 12-year-olds, and in September for younger children,” Şahin said. The manufacturers announced in March that the final phase clinical trials of their vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds showed it was 100% effective at preventing the disease.