With coronavirus cases rising as the Delta variant spreads, the vaccination drive in Israel is being expanded to include youths ages 12-16. Over 100,000 teens have been vaccinated so far. However, there have been no announcements about plans to vaccinate younger children.
Prof. Cyril Cohen, Head of the Immunotherapy Laboratory at Bar Ilan University and a member of the Advisory Committee for Clinical Trials on Coronavirus Vaccines, spoke to Channel 12 News about when Israel is expected to begin to vaccinate all children against the coronavirus.
She said that the clinical trials of the vaccines for children are ongoing and in advanced stages. "At the moment, the goal is to test what is the optimal dose in terms of quantity, basic efficiency and also efficiency on a larger scale."
"The current study in the U.S. involves 4,600 children, divided into three age groups: six months to two years, two to five years, and five to eleven years. The youngest to receive the shot so far is an 8-month-old baby. Naturally, the vaccine dose is likely to be lower than that of adults. By the way, the parents of a child who is participating in the experiment do not know whether he received a placebo or a regular vaccine, and that is how they actually compare the groups and examine the effectiveness of the vaccine," she explained.
According to Prof, Cohen, Israel will begin vaccinating children under the age of 12 in November or December.
"In my estimation, the results of the study are expected in early fall, and assuming efficacy is proven and no problematic side effects are found, an application for FDA approval will be submitted. Will be approved or additional details will be required.
"Since children's immune system is usually very good, I guess we will see excellent vaccine effectiveness at these ages. The question is whether we see significant side effects.
"It cannot be ignored that rare symptoms of myocarditis have been described in young people following the vaccine. On the other hand, since in most cases the disease in children is very mild or asymptomatic, in my opinion we cannot compromise on a vaccine that does not have a very high safety profile. When approving a vaccine one should always weigh the risks against the benefit. Therefore, when the risk for children is not great, it is important that the chance of possible side effects be zero. In any case, the choice of whether or not to vaccinate must remain with the parents."
"Over the past year, we have learned that corona is an unpredictable virus. Every day a more violent strain may be discovered, or G-d forbid a more dangerous strain for children. Therefore, it is important to develop a vaccine for the young population as well - and as early as possible," concluded Prof. Cohen.