Image source: Wikimedia Commons
The Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will be tested on children between the ages of 6 and 17 in a new study.
About 300 volunteers will take part, and the first vaccinations in the process will take place later in February.
The researchers say they will assess whether the vaccine elicits a strong immune response in children between the ages of six and 17.
The vaccine is one of two used to protect against serious illness and death from Covid-19 in the UK, along with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
About 240 children will receive the vaccine – and the rest a control meningitis vaccine – when the trial begins.
Volunteers living near one of the four training venues – Oxford University, St George’s University Hospital in London, Southampton University Hospital and the British Royal Children’s Hospital – have been asked to enroll.
Those wishing to participate must complete a short questionnaire.
South Africa considers swinging or selling AstraZeneca Covid vaccine South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccine over new Covid
Andrew Pollard, a professor of pediatric infection and immunity and lead researcher in the Oxford vaccine study, noted that most children are relatively unaffected by Covid and are unlikely to get the virus.
However, Prof. Pollard said it was important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people, as some children could benefit from the vaccination.
There are currently no plans to vaccinate children with the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine in the UK, as it is allowed to prevent Covid-19 in people aged 18 and over.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is only allowed for people over 16 years of age. The list of priority vaccines also excludes persons under the age of 16, even those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
The University of Oxford said this was the first trial of the Covid vaccine in the 6-17 age group. It says that other trials have begun, but only measuring the effectiveness in those aged 16 and 17.