Moderna will begin testing the coronavirus vaccine on thousands of children as young as 12 years old.
The U.S. drugmaker will conduct trials in Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah, according to a company report on clinicaltrials.gov.
Three thousand volunteers between the ages of 12 and 18 will receive two injections four weeks apart, and half will receive placebos – although the company said it is “not recruiting yet.”
Federal officials said it is crucial that the vaccine be tested on children before being widely distributed next year.
The Moderna vaccine, which the latest tests have shown to be more than 94 percent effective, is expected to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for emergency use in the UK in the coming weeks.
Pfizer / BioNTech – which is 97 percent effective and received approval Wednesday – began similar tests on teens and children in October.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to vaccinate 20 million people – or about a third of the population – with two doses, 21 days apart.
Health Minister Matt Hancock said 800,000 doses of the shot will arrive from a Pfizer factory in Belgium next week, with millions more doses in the coming weeks.
The UK has ordered seven million doses of the Moderna shot.
Moderna has filed with the US FDA for an emergency permit to begin vaccinating adults in the US, and hopes the rollout can begin in late December.
After the final test results were released, Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer said: “This positive primary analysis confirms our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19 disease with 94.1% efficacy and, most importantly, its ability to severe COVID-19 disease.
“We believe our vaccine will be a new and powerful tool that can change the course of this pandemic and help prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death.”
The results came from Moderna’s Phase 3 study, which involved more than 30,000 participants in the US.
They found that there were 196 cases of Covid-19 in the study group – 185 of which were in those who took the placebo, and 11 of those received the vaccine.
The 196 Covid-19 cases included 33 older adults and 42 participants who identified as being from different communities (including 29 Hispanic or Latin, 6 Black or African Americans, 4 Asian Americans, and 3 multiracial participants).
Mr. Bancel added, “We will be filing for an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA today and will continue the ongoing reviews that have already been initiated with various regulatory agencies around the world.”