Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine fully protects children aged 12 to 17, the company announced Tuesday.
In a clinical trial that included more than 3,700 young volunteers, there were no cases of symptomatic COVID-19 infection in the two-thirds of participants who received both doses of the vaccine, which translates into an efficacy rate of 100%.
That’s the same rate that was reported recently by Pfizer in clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds, The New York Times said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization for use of the Moderna vaccine is currently limited to adults, but Moderna said Tuesday that it plans to apply in June for emergency use in adolescents. Pfizer has already been granted that approval for its vaccine.
“We are encouraged that mRNA-1273 [Moderna’s vaccine] was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in adolescents. It is particularly exciting to see that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We will submit these results to the U.S. FDA and regulators globally in early June and request authorization. We remain committed to doing our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Moderna also noted that a single dose of its vaccine was 93% effective against symptomatic illness.
“Those cases that did occur between the two doses were mild, which is also a good indicator of protection against disease,” Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., told the Times.
Side effects among adolescents who received the Moderna vaccine were similar to those reported in adults: Pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and chills, the Times reported.
“No significant safety concerns have been identified to date,” Moderna said in its statement. Trial participants will be monitored for a year after their second dose.
The trial results were announced in a news release that had no detailed data from the clinical trial, but Moderna said it plans to submit the data for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, the Times reported.
“These look like promising results,” Dr. Kristin Oliver, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told the Times. “The more vaccines we have to protect adolescents from COVID, the better.”
Trials in younger children are ongoing for both Moderna and Pfizer, but results from those could take longer because a safe and effective dose, which could be different than the adult doses, has to first be determined, the Washington Post said.
The strong results the COVID-19 vaccines are showing in teens are helping school officials and local leaders as they plan for the fall. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all public school students in New York City, the largest school system in the United States, would return to in-person learning in the fall.
New York’s move came as several states indicated that they will restrict remote learning in the fall, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID-19 vaccines.
SOURCES: The New York Times; Washington Post; Moderna Inc., news release, May 25, 2021