Oxford Univ to test Covid vaccine on children as young as 6 to evaluate immune response

The trial will use 300 volunteers to assess whether vaccine shots produce a strong immune response in children aged six to 17.

The Covishield vaccine against coronavirus developed by the University of Oxford and pharma firm AstraZeneca Plc will be in children for the first time. The study and clinical trials will begin this month, the university said on Saturday.  

Researchers will be testing the vaccine on around 300 volunteers to assess whether the shots – known as the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine – produces a strong immune response in children aged between six and seventeen. 

The Oxford Covid-19 vaccine has already been approved for use in adults in the UK, along with those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, while many other countries have also been administering their people with these three vaccines. 

“In children, the evidence is now clear that Covid-19 is associated with a considerably lower burden of morbidity and mortality compared to that seen in the elderly,” it said.

The university further added, “There is also some evidence that children may be less likely to acquire the infection. The role of children in transmission, once they have acquired the infection, is unclear, although there is no clear evidence that they are any more infectious than adults.”

For the first trial, about 240 children will be enrolled.

Children are unaffected by the Covid virus and have lesser chances to become sick from the infection said Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, citing that, “it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination”.

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These new trials on children will expand the understanding of control Sars-CoV2 to younger age groups, professor Pollard added. 

The Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is hailed as a ‘vaccine for the world’, as it is affordable and easy to distribute than other competing vaccines in the market. 

With a target to manufacture 3 billion doses in 2021, AstraZeneca aims to produce more than 200 million doses of the Covishield vaccine per month by April 2021.  




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