Pfizer on Thursday requested emergency approval from U.S. health authorities to use its Covid jab for children ages five to 11 years.
Here’s a look at different approaches to vaccinating children against the virus and the debates it has launched around the world.
Pfizer tested its plug on more than 2,000 U.S. children ages five to 11 and submitted results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval.
Pfizer and BioNTech say that children in trials responded well to the vaccine and that their immune response was “robust” and “comparable” to that observed in older adolescents and young adults aged 16 to 25 years.
Do other countries do this?
On September 15, Cuba began administering doses of its Abdala and Soberana vaccines – which are not internationally approved – to children aged two to 11 years.
Sinovac has been approved for use in adults in more than 50 countries, but before Cambodia, only China had approved its use in children over three years of age.
In early August, the United Arab Emirates began offering Sinopharm, another Chinese jab, to children ages three to 17.
In Israel, children aged five to 11 with complicating health factors – such as chronic lung disease, autoimmune disease or neurological problems – have been able to be vaccinated since the end of July.
Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist for the French government, told AFP that the big question is whether the risk that Covid poses to children in this age group outweighs the risk of potential jab side effects.
“The risk of hospitalization for an infected child is 10 times higher than for a child in Western Europe,” he said, referring to the prevalence of pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
The situation that could cause US authorities to quickly approve jabs for younger children.
In the last few months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has hammered out the importance of getting poorer adult populations vaccinated before extending jabs to children in rich countries.
Fontanet says Western European countries will be “much more hesitant” than the United States to lower the age group for vaccination.
The vaccination rate among the elderly is also rising, he added, reducing the risk of the fragile population being infected by infections in young children.
“We always expect parents to be a little more hesitant,” he said.
“It is really in our best interest not to rush and look at the data coming from large-scale vaccination of children in the United States,” Fontanet added.