- EXCLUSIVE: Professor Paul Hunter says the benefits of waking children are few
- Professor David Livermore says jabbing in under-12s would be ‘morally questionable’
- An FDA advisory panel voted in favor of employing five to 12-year-olds in the US
Arguments for vaccinating children under the age of five against Covid are ‘scientifically weak’, British experts claimed today as the US moved closer to jabbing infants.
An advisory panel from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday almost unanimously agreed on the benefits of giving under-12 Pfizer’s jab outweigh the risks.
US health chiefs are expected to flag off the plans within a few days, which will put pressure on the UK to follow suit.
But British scientists have warned against advising primary school-aged children to be ‘blinded’ without weighing the risks ‘extremely’.
Professor David Livermore, a medical microbiologist at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline: ‘Vaccination of children to protect adults through herd immunity is ethically questionable and scientifically weak.’
There is still concern about myocarditis, a form of inflammation of the heart found in children, mostly in boys, in about one in 10,000 cases after vaccination.
Critics say that babies are better off catching Covid and getting protection naturally because the risk of being admitted to the ICU is one in 500,000.
There are signs that natural immunity in British youth is already slowing the epidemic. But some studies have suggested that myocarditis itself is even more common after covid infection, which complicates the matter even more.
Professor Russell Viner, a pediatrician and member of the UK government’s scientific advisory group SAGE, said it was important that the UK was not ‘too hasty’ in the wake of the announcement in the US.
Professor Paul Hunter (left), an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia (UEA), told MailOnline that the risk of serious illness from Covid in five- to 12-year-olds is less than 12-t-15-. 1 year old children who are currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine in the UK. And Professor David Livermore (right), a medical microbiologist at UEA, says the rationale for pursuing the rollout to achieve herd immunity is also ‘scientifically weak’.
According to Pfizer’s trial, the Pfizer vaccine is 91 percent effective in the first four months after being administered to children between the ages of five and 11.
The data used to justify the FDA panel’s decision that roughly 180 children would be expected to suffer from myocarditis for every death would prevent the vaccine if the rollout goes ahead.
But no one would be expected to die from side effects.
By comparison, the rollout would prevent more than 200 hospitalizations and a handful of deaths over a six-month period.
And the data showed that it can prevent tens of thousands of infections at the same time.
Seventeen of the 18 advisors dismissed the benefits outweigh the risks, while one member did not participate.
UK Covid cases may shrink as children develop ‘high levels’ of immunity due to back-to-school wave, claims SAGE advisory
Britain’s Covid cases are already falling as children have built up immunity after the back-to-school wave, one of the government’s top scientific advisers claimed today.
Professor John Edmonds, an epidemiologist who sits on SAGE, said the spike in infections over the past few months was driven by a ‘large number of cases’ among young people.
Health officials estimated that one in 12 children across England had the virus last week.
Professor Edmonds said the rise in infections would ‘ultimately promote higher levels of immunity in children’ which would see cases plateau and then drop.
He added that it ‘may be we are achieving it now’.
Professor Edmonds, who has been notoriously supportive during the pandemic, was behind the unusually optimistic London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine model published last week.
It was found that cases may start falling sharply from next month.
His remarks come despite growing calls to promote the vaccine among students after the outbreak erupted in classrooms.
Teaching unions described their ‘extreme frustration’ with the slow pace of the programme, which has so far seen only 20 percent of people aged 12 to 15 be vaccinated.
Plans now require approval from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive emergency use authorization.
If the move passes the final hurdles, it would make Pfizer’s jab the first Covid vaccine to be available for children in that age group.
The data used by the panel was based on 2,268 five- to 11-year clinical trials of Pfizer’s Phase 3 from March to September.
While most cases of myocarditis after a Covid jab are mild and treatable, scientific advisers to the UK government say the long-term effects of the inflammation are not understood.
This was one of the main reasons why the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) did not recommend the jab for children aged 12 to 15 years, despite the jab being deemed safe by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Britain went ahead with only those plans, with other health officials saying they could prevent school disruptions.
Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said it is unlikely the JCVI would recommend jabs for children under the age of 12.
Pfizer’s vaccine is not currently approved by the MHRA for anyone younger than 12 years old.
Professor Hunter told MailOnline: ‘The JCVI determined that the benefits of vaccination for 12 to 15-year-olds were modest and I think they were correct.
‘I certainly consider them to be the most informed group to make such a decision.
‘Given that the severity of infection in under-12s is even lower than in 12 to 15-year-olds, the balance of evidence in immunization of young children compared to the current …