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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cincinnati Children's COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Show Similar Efficacy In Kids And Adults

Courtesy of Cincinnati Children's
In late March, Cincinnati Children's began inoculating children ages 5 to 11 years old with the vaccine as part of a dose-finding trial.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials at Cincinnati Children's Hospital show similar vaccine efficacy in kids and adults. Children vaccinated during the trial have not become infected.

Late last month, the medical center began inoculating children ages 5 to 11 years old with the vaccine as part of a dose-finding trial. Currently, eight kids from 5 to 11 are being observed along with five children aged between 2 and 4.

Robert Frenck, M.D., is the director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center. He says the hospital is using the same dose in kids as in adults. Efficacy has been similar in both trials.

"The other thing I think that data in the adolescents shows us is that with only 3,000 adolescents, we were able to show efficacy where it took 30,000 adults," Frenck said. "To me, the take home message there is there's a lot of COVID in kids and in adolescents, and it's really one of the reasons why it's so important to be vaccinating our children."

The study showed that 18 children in the placebo group contracted COVID-19, while there were no reports of infected children within the vaccinated group. Frenck says the direct effect of getting a child vaccinated prevents serious illness, while the indirect effect is preventing viral spread.

"To try to immunize the kids and then to decrease transmission, we've seen that works well for flu, which is another respiratory virus," Frenck said. "We think that there's a good chance that immunizing children could also decrease the transmission of the virus pretty significantly."

Frenck also says he won't be surprised if emergency use of vaccines for children will be approved by the time school starts next year.

"Initially, I was saying below 12 years of age, I thought it would be more like December, but now with how things are progressing, how well things have been going, it may even be by August or September that we would have a vaccine available by (emergency use authorization) for kids 5 to 11 years of age," Frenck said.

Pfizer has filed to expand emergency use to children aged 12 to 15.

Cincinnati Children's is looking to enroll children less than 5 years old in the study. It says thousands of parents have expressed interest. Currently, at least 3,000 children are on hold for the trials.

Nearly 340 children and about 1,4000 adults are participating in various COVID-19 vaccine trials at Cincinnati Children's, and more children will be enrolled soon. Trials for adults began at the hospital last May.

Last month, Pfizer said clinical trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine elicits "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in adolescents from 12 to 15 years old. Moderna started enrolling children from 6 months to less than 12 years old into a trial of its COVID-19 vaccine last month.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.