A decision has not yet been made to provide the Covid-19 coronavirus jab for children, said one of the directors of the vaccination program.
However, Professor Adam Finn of the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) said this was “certainly something we may need to do”.
He told Good Morning Britain: “As far as I know, no decision was made to immunize children as of August, or a decision was actually made at that point to immunize children at all.
“But it is certainly something we have to do.”
Regarding a clinical study on the use of the Oxford vaccine in children, he added, “This is why we are conducting the study and will be doing more studies on the other vaccines in children in the coming weeks.
“To see that vaccines can be used safely in children, we have to do that.”
“We need to do more than one study,” he told Good Morning Britain.
“If it turns out that there is a need to immunize children, I think we are more likely to give teenagers priority over younger children simply because we currently have evidence that the virus is more likely to be transmitted from and between teenagers, who are a little more like adults.
“I think what we have to learn beforehand, what proportion of the population we have to immunize in order to achieve effective herd immunity and suppress the circulation of the virus.
“To do this, we need to have a clear understanding of how efficiently the vaccines actually disrupt infection and transmission, and that evidence is still on the way.”
Regarding the goal of vaccinating the adult population before the end of July, Prof. Finn added: “During this time we will see what happens to variants and the spread of the virus, and then we can vaccinate and decide whether Children need to be vaccinated – we don’t want that, of course, unless it’s necessary.
“But by then, if we need to, we’ll know if the vaccines are completely safe and effective, and we’ll give the right dose and so on so we can continue with them later in the year.”
It comes as vaccine maker Sinovac said its Covid-19 surge is safe in children ages three to 17 based on preliminary data.
The company said it had submitted the data to Chinese drug regulators.
More than 70 million vaccinations have been given with Sinovac worldwide, including in China.
China has approved its use in adults, but not yet in children, as the immune system may respond differently to the vaccine.
Early and mid-term clinical trials involving more than 550 subjects showed that the vaccine would trigger an immune response, said Gang Zeng, the medical director at Sinovac.
Two recipients developed a high fever in response to the vaccine, one a three year old and the other a six year old. The rest of the subjects had mild symptoms, said Mr. Zeng.
“It is very welcome to show that the vaccine is safe and would trigger a potentially beneficial immune response against SARS-CoV-2,” said Eng Eong Ooi, a professor at Duke NUS Medical School in Singapore who is co-directing the development of a vaccine separately Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the data publicly presented by the company was insufficient to provide a conclusive answer to the results.