Many parents across the US are celebrating the announcement that their young children may soon be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the latest in the fight against the dangerous virus.
Pfizer Makes Important Vaccine Announcement
Pfizer announced on Monday that the latest Phase 2/3 trial demonstrated that its COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective for children in the age group ranging from 5 to 11. The announcement marks the first time that official results have been results for this age group for a US vaccine. According to Pfizer, they will submit the data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) shortly. From there, it would likely only take a few weeks for the FDA to recommend the vaccine for widespread use.
Details of TrialRead More »
The study examined the neutralizing antibody levels in the blood of the participants and compared them to the control group of people ages 16 to 25 given the larger dose of the vaccine. Pfizer concluded that the antibody levels in the youth were similar to the older control group one month after the second dose, indicating that the 10-microgram dose was sufficient in providing protection against the virus.
In addition, Pfizer said that the vaccine was tolerated well by this younger age group, noting that the side effects were in line with what was observed in the older group. A spokesperson with the company said that there were no confirmed instances of myocarditis with the trial.
What is Next?
Pfizer is ready to file this data shortly, setting off the process of obtaining the EUA. Most experts are hypothesizing that this timeline means that the vaccine may be available as early as Halloween. In a normal review, the FDA takes about four to six weeks to go through the data and make recommendations.
The pharmaceutical company also said on Monday that it is expecting to have the trial data for children ages six months to four years as early as the fourth quarter of 2021.
What an EUA Would Mean
According to the latest census data, over 28 million Americans would become eligible for the vaccine should this version receive the EUA. As of now, approximately 85% of the US population is able to get the vaccine. However, adding the 5 to 11 population would bring this total up to 94%. This could go a long way in the fight to contain the virus, particularly before the winter season sets in.
Cases in Children Continue to Remain High
The news of the vaccine response could not have come at a better time. Also on Monday, it was revealed that children are suffering more than ever at the hands of this virus. New data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reveals 225,978 new cases among children over the past week. While this is a small drop from the previous week, it is still one of the highest rates among children during the entirety of the pandemic.
This week’s numbers account for more than 26% of the total case count across all population groups in the US. The higher case counts in children are no doubt being fueled in large part by the return to school.
COVID-19 Deaths Surpass Numbers of Spanish Flu
The US reached another grim milestone on Monday when it was reported that over 675,000 Americans have lost their lives at the hands of the virus. This number officially surpasses the nation’s estimated death toll from the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 675,000 Americans died during the 1918 pandemic. However, it is important to keep this figure in context. The population during this time period was much smaller than it is now. While about 1 in every 500 Americans has died because of COVID-19, this figure sat at about 1 in every 150 people during the 1918 pandemic.
On a global scale, the US is not faring as well as it did in 1918. Americans account for roughly 1 in 7 COVID-19 deaths. Conversely, Americans only represented about 1% of the total 50 million fatalities attributed to the Spanish Flu.
US to Ease International Travel Restrictions
In a bit of promising news, the US announced that it is planning to ease travel restrictions on visitors coming from Europe and the United Kingdom beginning in November. The White House will now allow visitors if they are fully vaccinated.
According to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients, the new rule will mandate that all foreign nationals and American citizens coming back to the US from abroad show proof of vaccination as well as a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of the flight. Unvaccinated Americans returning home will be subject to stricter testing rules, such as a test taken within one day of departure and another test required upon arrival.
This is welcome news to the travel industry and other hospitality groups that have been lobbying government officials to allow vaccinated tourists to travel to the US.