The timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer will have enough data from clinical trials to request FDA emergency use authorization for the age group near the end of September. Then the FDA would likely make a decision about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in children within about 3 weeks, two sources told Reuters.
Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke about the timeline during an online town hall meeting Friday, Reuters reported. The meeting was attended by thousands of staff members at the National Institutes of Health.
If Pfizer submits paperwork to the FDA by the end of September, the vaccine could be available for kids around mid-October, Fauci said, and approval for the Moderna vaccine could come in November. Moderna will take about 3 weeks longer to collect and analyze data for ages 5-11.
Pfizer has said it would have enough data for ages 5-11 in September and would submit its documentation for FDA authorization soon after that. Moderna told investors on Thursday that data for ages 6-11 would be available by the end of the year.
On Friday, the FDA said it would work to approve COVID-19 vaccines for children quickly once companies submit their data, according to Reuters. The agency said it would consider applications for emergency use, which would allow for faster approval.
Pfizer’s vaccine is the only one to receive full FDA approval, but only for people ages 16 and older. Adolescents ages 12-15 can receive the Pfizer vaccine under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.
For emergency use authorization, companies must submit 2 months of safety data, vs. 6 months for full approval. The FDA said Friday that children in clinical trials should be monitored for at least 2 months to observe side effects.
BioNTech, Pfizer’s vaccine manufacturing partner, told a news outlet in Germany that it plans to request authorization globally for ages 5-11 in coming weeks, according to Reuters.
“Already over the next few weeks, we will file the results of our trial in 5- to 11-year-olds with regulators across the world and will request approval of the vaccine in this age group, also here in Europe,” Oezlem Tuereci, MD, the chief medical officer for BioNTech, told Der Spiegel.
The company is completing the final production steps to make the vaccine at lower doses for the younger age group, she said. Pfizer and BioNTech will also seek vaccine approval for ages 6 months to 2 years later this year.
“Things are looking good, everything is going according to plan,” Ugur Sahin, MD, the CEO of BioNTech, told Der Spiegel.