Pfizer Will Seek Approval to Give Covid Vaccine to Children
Pfizer is expected to apply to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency clearance to administer its coronavirus vaccine to children ages 2-11 in September, the company told Wall Street analysts and reporters on Tuesday during its quarterly call for profits.
The company also plans to file for full approval of the vaccine this month for people ages 16 to 85. Clinical study data on the safety of his vaccine in pregnant women should be available by early August.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will be given to adults as part of an emergency clearance the companies received in December. Obtaining full FDA approval would, among other things, enable the companies to commercialize the vaccine directly to consumers. The approval process is expected to take months.
“Full approval is a welcome indicator of the continued safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, in an email. It could also “build further confidence in the importance of vaccination,” she said.
The Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was the first to receive emergency approval in the United States. Emergency permits are temporary and can be revoked once a public health emergency has ended.
Full approval would allow the vaccine to stay in the market when the pandemic wears off. This can also make it easier for businesses, government agencies, schools, and other institutions to request a vaccination. For example, the University of California and California State University school systems have announced that after coronavirus vaccines are fully FDA approved, students, faculties, and staff will need to be vaccinated. The U.S. military, where many troops have turned down coronavirus vaccines, has said it wouldn’t make them mandatory as long as they only have an emergency permit.
The FDA is expected to issue emergency approval early next week to allow the vaccine to be used in children ages 12-15.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference Tuesday that she does not want to be ahead of the FDA but that the government is preparing to “make this available to additional, younger populations.”
Dr. Popescu said the opportunity to allow children in the United States to use the vaccine was both exciting and frustrating. “We have key people around the world who cannot get vaccines and countries that may not have access for a year or more, so we need to add global access to this conversation,” she said.
As of Tuesday, more than 131 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine had been administered in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They make up just over half of all doses administered in the country to date.
Pfizer’s managing director, Dr. Albert Bourla said the company reached out to the FDA on Friday with new data to convince the agency that the vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures and not frozen for up to four weeks. Currently the limit is five days. He said the company was working on an updated version of the vaccine that could potentially be refrigerated for up to 10 weeks and hoped to have supportive data for that by August.
Rebecca Robbins contributed to the coverage.