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Pfizer-BioNTech Seeks EU Approval For Vaccine For Children

Pfizer/BioNTech’s new coronavirus vaccine Credit: Pfizer/Twitter

Vaccine manufacturer BioNTech and US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer asked the European Union (EU) for regulatory approval for COVID 19 vaccines for children, Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.

The two company are looking to get the nod from the European Medicine Agency for a vaccine that can be administered to children aged 12 to 15 once the safety trials are completed. BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin confirmed that he expects the vaccine to be available by June. 

Sahin explained that the company was following a tentative timeline for ensuring children of all ages can get the vaccine pending EU approval. 

Under their schedule, the companies expect children in the 5 to 12 age group to receive the vaccine by July. Those younger, from six months of age and upwards, would then receive their shots by September. 

A new study from March showed very promising results for the Pfzier-BioNTech vaccine’s effectiveness among children. According to it, their vaccine had a 100 percent efficacy rate among volunteers in the age group of 12 to 15, welcome sign if EU approval is granted.

Young people are considered less prone to becoming infected by COVID 19, but vaccinations for this group is important for building herd immunity.

EU pivots to Pfizer-BioNTech, away from AstraZeneca

Previously, the EU was reliant on the British drug company AstraZeneca for its supply of vaccines. 

However, the bloc initiated a lawsuit this week against the company for delays in delivery of the vaccine. AstraZeneca was supposed to deliver 300 million vaccines to the EU by June, but now is set only to make good on 100 million. 

In an interview with the New York Times, von der Layen faults AstraZeneca’s production delays as behind the EU’s slow vaccination campaign. 

“I knew that the upscaling of the deliveries would have a slow start by nature in the beginning, and therefore, I also knew the first quarter was going be tough,” she said.

“I did not expect it to be as tough, because we did not include the possibility that AstraZeneca would reduce deliveries by 75%. That was a heavy setback.”

Brussels is now shifting away towards Pfizer-BioNTech in response. 

A report by the New York Times shows just how closely in touch European leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have been with the company recently. The EC president was in regular contact with Pfizer-BioNTech executives when she became convinced it could better meet the bloc’s vaccine needs.

CNN reports that a contract has been drafted, but not finalized, that would commit Pfizer-BioNTech to providing a massive 1.8 billion doses through 2023. 

This massive shipment will be sent in addition to the 300 million doses the pharmaceutical giant has already promised the EU in a previous agreement. Pfizer and BioNTech agreed to supply an additional 200 million doses of their vaccine in February.

Greece’s vaccinations at over 2 million

The EU has lagged further behind counterparts like the United States, Britain and several other countries in its vaccination campaign. 

Greece however reported that one in four of its citizens have already received at least one dose of a COVID 19 vaccine. The rate of vaccinations in Greece is about the same with the rest of the EU countries.

Another 300,000 doses, however, are scheduled for delivery in May, with some 960,000 in June. Greece is also vaccinating with Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna vaccines.

Officials in Greece announced plans to begin reopening the country on May 14 in time for the tourism season. Some restrictions remain in place to curb the virus ahead of the planned reopening date.

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