Moderna's chief medical officer, Paul Burton, said that the company is already in discussions with the government to produce vaccines in Australia. He also said that they would release clinical studies on the effectiveness of its vaccines on children below the age of 12 by November. "At the moment, it's been approved for use in adults and children aged over 12 and we're certainly going down into, you know, infants, two years old," he added.
Moderna has already been approved to immunize children between 12 and 15, along with Pfizer.
In the U.S., Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have launched their vaccine trials for kids as young as 6 months old in March. Johnson & Johnson is also collecting data about their COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 17, and hopes to start studying doses for ages 2 to 11 soon.
Vaccine researchers are studying the best dosage for each age group. In all the clinical trials now underway, children's vaccines are essentially identical to the versions for adults, but at smaller doses. To determine the best dosage, clinical trials are broken into age groups to show different stages of a child's growth and development.
Vaccines are usually studied and approved in order of age, with healthy adults first in line, and babies, last. After a vaccine is authorized for the oldest clinical trial group, the company is set to move to the next.
Pfizer noted that once they have the results from their clinical trials for children 5 to 11 years old, results for 2 to under 5 and 6 months to 2 years could quickly follow. Depending on how the trials could go, it is possible to get a COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months by mid-winter.
The company is also developing COVID-19 booster shots that target different variants, including the delta strain, which has already spread rapidly in New South Wales and Victoria.
Moderna uses a production method that allows for up to 30 different elements that can be modified to include any new variants of the virus that are yet to emerge. This is a method similar to creating cancer vaccines. According to Dr. Burton, in creating cancer vaccines, they can put 30 different messenger RNA that can be combined against many different messenger RNAs and proteins. (Related: Australia considering COVID-19 vaccine passports and the segregation of society based on vaccination status.)
A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found Moderna's vaccines more effective at preventing hospitalizations compared to its rivals. It is also shown to contain three times more mRNA than Pfizer, making it more potent.
The Australian government also asked for expressions of interest for states to set up manufacturing sites, with multiple bids being assessed, and an announcement as to where mRNA vaccines will be produced is expected within the next few weeks.
Monash University Professor, Colin Pouton has been producing an Australian-made mRNA vaccine as well, in an attempt to set up a production plant in Australia. The Victorian government put funding towards an mRNA vaccine manufacturing plant and gave Monash University $5 million to produce doses for its own scientific trials.
NSW and the Australian Capital Territory have rollouts well underway as 85.2 percent of residents have received their first dose of a vaccine in NSW, and 85.9 percent in the ACT.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that her state is only a couple of weeks away from having 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated. "I ask everybody to please hold the line, it's really important we work hard now so that when we do start opening up at 70 percent, we are able to do so safely and by bringing everyone together," she stated.
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