There are globally now more people vaccinated for COVID-19 than confirmed cases of COVID-19. With globally over 400 million people fully vaccinated and over 1.7 billion vaccine doses administered, herd immunity seems achievable. However, unvaccinated proportions of the population remain, including adolescents ages 12–15 years. Getting this proportion of the population vaccinated will aid in approaching herd immunity as there are approximately 17 million adolescents in the US.
Two of the leading COVID-19 vaccines have shown efficacy in adolescents in recent clinical trials: Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s mRNA-1273. A Phase III trial of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in 2,260 adolescents ages 12–15 years demonstrated 100% efficacy, robust antibody response, and was well tolerated. Comirnaty is now recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and authorized by the FDA for adolescents. Providers are now vaccinating adolescents, and more than 600,000 adolescents ages 12–15 years have been vaccinated in the second week of May. Canada has also previously authorized the vaccine for adolescents ages 12–15 years, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is reviewing an application to extend Comirnaty to include ages 12–15 years. The outcome of the EMA’s evaluation is expected in June.
Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine has also recently reported that preliminary data from 3,235 adolescents ages 12–17 years showed that the vaccine had 96% efficacy. Moderna reported no serious safety concerns and is seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for adolescents. Moderna also has supporting data for the efficacy of a variant-directed vaccine, opening up the possibility for future vaccine boosters to address variants of concern and update the current vaccine to adapt to changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
While COVID-19 mostly causes mild to no symptoms in children, some can get severely ill, and recent data shows that children are making up an increasing share of new COVID-19 cases. SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to have infected more than 3.78 million children, although death caused by COVID-19 in children is rare. The vaccine will allow for a return to normalcy for this age group, help allow schools to safely reopen, and improve mental health by allowing adolescents to resume normal activities.
Pfizer expects to collect a staggering $26B in revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty in 2021. Meanwhile, Moderna is projecting $19.2B in COVID-19 sales this year, according to the company’s Q1 statement.