Uğur Şahin, the head of German company BioNTech, which produced the first vaccine against Covid-19, has said that children could be vaccinated from June this year, after “encouraging” studies showed positive results in children from the age of 12.
Şahin said the company had submitted its application for emergency approval of the vaccines in this age group in the USA at the start of April, and next Wednesday would be ready to submit the application for approval by EMA, the European medicines agency.
At the end of last month, BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer reported that approval studies had shown a high anti-body response from the vaccine amongst 12 to 15 year olds. Participants tolerated the vaccine well and it offered them a 100 per cent protection against the virus.
Both companies are also testing the vaccine on children aged from six months to 11 years.
In March, the first children in this age group were vaccinated as part of the study.
“In July we can expect to have results for five to 12 year olds, and in September for younger children. The evaluation takes around four to six weeks,” Şahin told Der Spiegel in an interview.
If everything goes well, as long as the data has been analysed by then, we’ll be able to submit an application for the approval of the vaccine for all children in these age groups in a variety of countries.
Şahin said he expected Europe to have achieved herd immunity by July, the latest August. But he also stressed that Europe was only safe as long as the rest of the world has the virus under control.
The efficacy of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine has so far been tested on a total of 30 variants, including the Indian variant B1617, and the results were positive in every case, he said.
He said that everyone who has been fully vaccinated will need a third booster shot, around nine to 12 months after the first. After that, a single annual top up would be required.