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Another Possible Vaccine for Kids

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Pfizer had good news today for parents with young children: Its vaccine worked well in children younger than 5 years old, the company said.

The preliminary findings from a clinical trial showed that the company’s regimen produced an immune response strong enough to meet the criteria for regulatory authorization. The company said its vaccine had been 80 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection in children ages 6 months to 4 years.

No supporting data was disclosed and the company only released a subset of its clinical trial data. A spokeswoman for Pfizer said comprehensive results from the trial would be disclosed next month.

The road to a pediatric vaccine in the U.S. has been bumpy, and parents’ expectations for when their children might have doses have been repeatedly dashed. The Biden administration had hoped to offer shots to those under 5 as early as February. But earlier this year, Pfizer said its two-dose regimen for children failed to offer enough protection from the Omicron variant.

Today, however, the company said that three doses, with the third given at least two months after the second, offered strong protection — with no safety concerns. Researchers said the immune response of the subset of children in the clinical trial compared favorably to that of people 16 to 25 who received two doses.

The new findings heat up a competition between Moderna and Pfizer over which company will produce the best vaccine for the youngest Americans.

Last month, Moderna sought emergency authorization of its two-dose pediatric vaccine after interim results showed that clinical trial participants had a similar immune response to young adults when given a dose one-fourth as strong. Moderna has said its vaccine appears to be 51 percent effective against symptomatic infection among children younger than 2, and 37 percent effective among those 2 to 5. But it has not yet submitted any data on that to the government.

If Pfizer’s results are borne out, its efficacy would be better than Moderna’s. The F.D.A. said today that its outside experts would meet on June 15 to discuss both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines.

About 18 million children under the age of 5 are the only Americans not yet eligible for vaccination against the coronavirus. An outstanding question is whether parents will get their young children vaccinated when a shot is authorized. (The Times Reader Center is interested in your perspective.)

Many are reluctant. Only about one in five parents with children under 5 said they would vaccinate their children right away, down from about a third in January, according to the latest monthly polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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In late September 2020, there was a coronavirus outbreak at a captive mink farm in Michigan. Two thousand animals died.

Last month, the C.D.C. confirmed that four Michigan residents, including two farm employees, had been infected with the same unique coronavirus variant that was found in the mink. It was the first, and so far only, known instance of possible animal-to-human transmission in the U.S.

The outbreak, and the investigation that followed, exposed blind spots in our ability to track the virus and variants that might be moving from animals to humans, my colleague Emily Anthes reports.

While other countries that have had outbreaks on mink farms have required farmers to report respiratory symptoms in mink and regularly submit carcasses for examination, there is no national screening program in the U.S. and federal officials rely upon farm owners to self-report outbreaks.

Emily told me that mink farms don’t necessarily pose an enormous threat — “It’s that without robust testing and surveillance, it’s impossible to say what kind of risks they pose,” she said.

Read the full story here.

This summer I can be with my friends again and not constantly worrying about Covid. Yes it’s still here, but I’ve put it on the back burner for now. Summer 2020 was very difficult because all our parents wanted us to be outside and 6 feet apart. This year, everyone is going to be 15 or 16 so we’ve definitely grown up. My plans are to find a job and make a lot of money, chill out with my friends, and spend as much time as possible on Fire Island.

— Cora Davis, New York, N.Y.

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