Covid: Canada authorises Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

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image copyrightReuters
image captionCanada is the first country in the world to authorise the use of the vaccine for children aged 12 to 15

Canada has authorised the use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15.

It is the first country to do so for that age group.

The country's health ministry made the decision based on data from phase three clinical trials on children that age.

"The department determined that this vaccine is safe and effective when used in this younger age group," an adviser at the ministry said. Pfizer says its jab works well in the age group.

Canada has already authorised the use of the Pfizer vaccine in people over 16.

The province of Alberta, which has the highest rate of the virus in the country, said it would offer vaccines to those over 12 from Monday.

Canada has recorded more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases and roughly 20% of those have been in people under the age of 19.

The country's vaccine rollout has been relatively slow, caused by delivery delays. About 34% of people in the country have received at least one dose of the vaccine while the figure in the US stands at 44%, according to Our World in Data.

image copyrightReuters
image captionCanada's vaccine rollout has been plagued by delays and supply issues

The government has also faced criticism for drawing on a supply of Covid vaccines from the Covax inoculation-sharing scheme. Covax pools funds from wealthier countries to help buy vaccines for themselves and low-income nations.

Children's risk of becoming very ill or dying with Covid-19 is tiny, and throughout the pandemic they have very rarely needed hospital treatment.

As part of the vaccine's approval, Pfizer will have to continue providing information to Canada's health ministry on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine in those aged 12 to 15.

In March, Pfizer said initial results from trials of its vaccine in this age group showed 100% efficacy and a strong immune response.

The US Food and Drug administration and the European Medicines Agency are currently reviewing whether they can authorise the jab for younger people, with decisions expected soon.

US President Joe Biden this week laid out plans to roll out vaccines for 12- to 15-year-olds as soon as possible.

What about other vaccine manufacturers?

Pfizer is one of a number of vaccine manufacturers testing jabs on children. The aim of vaccinating them - particularly older children - would be to keep schools open, reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community and protect vulnerable children with conditions which put them at increased risk.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are currently testing their vaccines on those aged 12-18, with Moderna's data expected soon.

Moderna and Pfizer are also testing their jabs on younger children between six months and 11 years old.

media captionAtraZeneca's clinical trial on volunteers between six and 17 begin

In the UK, AstraZeneca is testing its vaccine on 300 child volunteers. Researchers will assess whether the jab produces a strong immune response in children aged between six and 17.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden said he planned to back a World Trade Organisation waiver that would take away intellectual property rights from vaccine manufacturers. If approved, the waiver would allow production of vaccines to be ramped up and provide more affordable doses for less wealthier countries.

World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described Mr Biden's backing as a "monumental moment in the fight against Covid".

Canada is the first country to act

By Rachel Schraer, BBC health reporter

Children haven't generally been included in the first phase of most countries' vaccine programmes, because under-16s weren't included in the original trials.

Drug companies are understandably wary to test products on children, especially when their risk from the disease the vaccine protects against is low.

But for the families of children with certain health conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid, being sure the shot is safe takes on a whole different importance.

Now we do have some trial data from Pfizer for 12- to 15-year-olds, suggesting the vaccine is both safe and effective. And Canada is the first country to act on this data.

Although most children are not at high risk from Covid, if they can begin to be safely vaccinated it is believed this could help countries to achieve herd immunity, reducing the chances of disease outbreaks in the future.

And with many countries struggling to vaccinate their most vulnerable populations - against a virus that doesn't respect borders - the Canadian move could raise questions about whether the vaccines could be prioritised better elsewhere.

Global vaccine rollout

Scroll table
World
33.6
2,621,055,106
China
70.1
1,013,958,260
US
94.8
317,117,797
India
19.6
270,908,312
Brazil
40.7
86,475,842
UK
111.2
74,304,520
Germany
78.5
65,738,489
France
70.6
47,714,865
Italy
75.4
45,579,305
Turkey
48.8
41,194,790
Mexico
30.7
39,623,088
Spain
75.7
35,412,140
Indonesia
12.8
35,086,248
Russia
23.8
34,768,902
Canada
84.4
31,836,378
Japan
22.8
28,887,137
Poland
69.8
26,422,469
Chile
109.2
20,865,931
South Korea
35.3
18,117,755
Argentina
39.5
17,837,121
Morocco
47.4
17,494,081
Saudi Arabia
47.5
16,548,174
United Arab Emirates
145.9
14,428,916
Colombia
27.6
14,062,307
Netherlands
75.4
12,927,990
Pakistan
5.8
12,750,760
Israel
122.9
10,640,916
Bangladesh
6.1
10,082,705
Belgium
82.6
9,567,331
Hungary
95.8
9,249,943
Romania
45.2
8,690,945
Philippines
7.3
8,050,711
Thailand
10.7
7,483,083
Greece
71.4
7,446,861
Portugal
72.9
7,437,171
Czech Republic
67.1
7,188,882
Austria
75.9
6,835,256
Dominican Republic
63.0
6,835,074
Sweden
66.7
6,731,352
Australia
25.5
6,491,476
Switzerland
74.0
6,405,316
Peru
18.6
6,137,047
Cambodia
34.5
5,762,050
Malaysia
17.0
5,510,720
Serbia
74.5
5,070,754
Iran
5.7
4,792,881
Singapore
80.2
4,691,386
Cuba
40.1
4,536,882
Kazakhstan
23.1
4,345,853
Finland
70.7
3,916,915
Egypt
3.7
3,794,707
Mongolia
109.8
3,599,557
Norway
65.7
3,560,786
Uruguay
101.3
3,518,053
Nepal
11.1
3,231,849
Ireland
65.2
3,218,310
Sri Lanka
15.0
3,217,818
Denmark
55.3
3,200,860
Slovakia
58.0
3,165,915
Ecuador
17.8
3,133,387
Myanmar
5.5
2,994,900
Azerbaijan
28.8
2,915,954
Jordan
28.6
2,914,335
Qatar
99.8
2,876,509
Uzbekistan
8.1
2,695,058
Algeria
5.7
2,500,000
El Salvador
38.0
2,466,561
Vietnam
2.4
2,359,376
Croatia
56.5
2,318,428
Nigeria
1.1
2,225,765
Bolivia
18.7
2,181,452
Costa Rica
42.2
2,150,520
Lithuania
76.7
2,088,447
Ukraine
4.8
2,082,102
Ethiopia
1.7
1,974,476
Bahrain
113.6
1,932,506
Kuwait
42.6
1,820,000
Bulgaria
23.8
1,657,042
Tunisia
12.4
1,459,780
Taiwan
6.0
1,429,514
Panama
32.7
1,412,477
Slovenia
67.0
1,392,599
Angola
4.0
1,314,375
Venezuela
4.6
1,302,992
Ghana
4.0
1,228,216
Laos
16.3
1,183,137
Kenya
2.2
1,181,588
Lebanon
16.5
1,128,719
Zimbabwe
7.5
1,108,203
Belarus
11.3
1,068,413
Latvia
56.5
1,066,582
Estonia
67.5
895,870
New Zealand
18.5
891,702
Albania
30.0
862,628
Uganda
1.8
812,118
Guatemala
4.5
805,585
Cyprus
84.4
739,365
Ivory Coast
2.7
722,073
Oman
14.1
720,199
Palestinian Territories
14.0
716,393
Iraq
1.7
703,820
Paraguay
9.3
662,804
Afghanistan
1.7
662,003
Senegal
3.8
632,648
Malta
140.8
621,674
Moldova
15.3
618,217
Rwanda
4.5
578,569
Sudan
1.2
539,843
Honduras
5.0
497,563
Maldives
91.9
496,662
Bhutan
62.8
484,189
South Africa
0.8
478,733
North Macedonia
22.7
473,853
Luxembourg
74.8
468,346
Mauritius
35.8
455,242
Guinea
3.4
452,651
Malawi
2.2
420,685
Mozambique
1.3
394,930
Iceland
104.1
355,178
Libya
5.1
351,408
Togo
4.2
347,246
Guyana
40.2
315,816
Bosnia and Herzegovina
9.6
315,780
Georgia
7.7
309,128
Montenegro
43.7
274,514
Equatorial Guinea
18.3
257,146
Fiji
27.1
242,539
Yemen
0.8
235,855
Trinidad and Tobago
15.4
215,991
Jamaica
6.6
194,315
Niger
0.8
186,207
Nicaragua
2.5
167,500
Suriname
28.3
165,785
Mali
0.8
163,218
Somalia
1.0
158,709
Barbados
54.1
155,423
Madagascar
0.5
150,329
Botswana
6.4
150,019
Zambia
0.8
148,304
Seychelles
140.0
137,676
Kyrgyzstan
2.1
135,578
Namibia
4.9
123,954
Jersey
115.4
116,607
Timor-Leste
8.4
110,531
Tajikistan
1.1
102,711
Kosovo
0.000
98,277
Belize
24.5
97,404
Isle of Man
111.3
94,630
Sierra Leone
1.2
91,789
Cameroon
0.3
89,180
Cayman Islands
133.2
87,517
Comoros
9.7
84,360
Gibraltar
231.0
77,831
Bermuda
123.4
76,860
Guernsey
113.9
76,401
Syria
0.4
71,519
Bahamas
17.3
68,119
Liberia
1.3
67,437
Brunei
15.1
65,972
Congo
1.1
62,231
Antigua and Barbuda
60.8
59,582
Armenia
1.9
55,557
Saint Lucia
27.9
51,178
Andorra
66.1
51,107
Mauritania
1.1
49,235
Cape Verde
8.6
47,943
San Marino
128.7
43,671
Central African Republic
0.9
42,644
Turkmenistan
0.7
41,993
Gabon
1.9
41,737
Faroe Islands
85.2
41,653
Gambia
1.7
40,810
Samoa
20.3
40,230
Papua New Guinea
0.4
38,176
Dominica
52.8
37,978
DR Congo
0.041
36,939
Lesotho
1.7
36,759
Turks and Caicos Islands
93.4
36,170
Eswatini
3.0
35,227
Monaco
86.5
33,965
Saint Kitts and Nevis
60.9
32,415
Greenland
56.7
32,175
Tonga
28.4
29,980
Liechtenstein
75.0
28,606
Grenada
24.8
27,929
Benin
0.2
26,624
Sao Tome and Principe
10.9
23,918
St Vincent and the Grenadines
20.8
23,087
Djibouti
2.2
21,357
British Virgin Islands
64.6
19,534
South Sudan
0.2
18,863
Guinea-Bissau
1.0
18,706
Burkina Faso
0.085
17,775
Solomon Islands
2.5
17,000
Anguilla
99.6
14,937
Cook Islands
69.8
12,254
Saint Helena
130.0
7,892
Nauru
68.7
7,438
Chad
0.032
5,324
Vanuatu
1.7
5,140
Tuvalu
40.5
4,772
Falkland Islands
126.5
4,407
Montserrat
51.7
2,584
Pitcairn
100.0
47
British Indian Ocean Territory
0
0
Burundi
0
0
Eritrea
0
0
Haiti
0
0
Kiribati
0
0
Niue
0
0
North Korea
0
0
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
0
0
Tanzania
0
0
Tokelau
0
0
Vatican
0
0

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