Pfizer has submitted initial trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 to Health Canada, the company said Friday.
In an email to Global News, Pfizer said it has sent in its findings and continues to work with the country’s regulator ahead of a formal submission, which it expects to make by mid-October.
Health Canada said they have received the data.
“I can confirm that we received the preliminary data for COVID-19 vaccine on kids 5-11 years old from Pfizer this afternoon,” a spokesperson for Health Canada told Global News in an email Friday.
The development comes after Pfizer, alongside company BioNTech, submitted initial trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 to U.S. regulators on Tuesday.
As part of its trial, Pfizer and BioNTech said their data showed a strong immune response among 2,268 children ages five to 11.
Data showed the two-shot mRNA vaccine generated an immune response that matched what was observed in those aged 16 to 25. The companies said they used a lower dosage in the children – a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now.
Canada’s chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, told reporters at a news conference Friday that Health Canada will be assessing the lower dosage while it examines the data.
“We have a dedicated team that’s ready to receive that information and review it as soon as it’s available,” she said.
“We would only authorize if it was shown that the benefits outweigh the risks, specifically for this group of individuals from five to 11.”
Sharma also said Health Canada was expecting Pfizer to give them initial trial data in advance of its formal submission, so that officials could start working on it right away. She added she’s expecting that a full submission will come by mid-October.
COVID-19 vaccination for children ages five to 11 will be an important milestone in the pandemic fight, said Dr. Katharine Smart, president of the Canadian Medical Association.
Smart told Global News that not only will children be protected, but it will get Canada closer to herd immunity.
“Children under 12 are 15 per cent of the Canadian population, so if they are unvaccinated it creates huge pockets where Delta can spread,” she said.
In the meantime, protecting school-age children must remain a priority for governments, she added, in addition to trying to keep them in school.
The best ways to do that include indoor masking, cohorts, better ventilation and rapid testing, Smart said.
“Things like rapid testing are being talked about as another tool to be able to identify early cases so that we’re not having to have entire schools shut down,” she said.
“So that is another tool that we really could be thinking about right now while we’re waiting to deploy vaccination in that younger group.”
–With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
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