The beginning of the trials of AstraZeneca in under 16 years old and that joins other como Moderna, Pfizer o Sinovac has opened a question that is overdue in the rush to protect the most vulnerable: Should boys and girls be vaccinated? A question that, however, does not have a firm response that sets the chair and that it is not subject to a possible modification in the future. Is what has a new pandemic.
“At first, I would say that the time will come when they have to be vaccinated, but it is making a hypothesis because we do not know how the virus will evolve,” he summarizes Luis Blesa, President of the Valencian Society of Pediatrics. “There are many things that are not known,” continues the doctor who states that until now the vaccine trials had not been done in minors due to their normal functioning and because the objective was to protect the most vulnerable adults, especially the elderly 70 years.
For now, as the doctor in Medicine and researcher assigned to the Vaccine Area of the Fisabio Institute recalls, Maria Garcés-Sánchez, “What we know is that children are having little role, fortunately, in the pandemic; they are almost not infected and transmit the disease little». “They pass the disease in an extraordinarily mild way”, corroborates the Public Health expert, Salvador Peiró.
One of the explanations about why the little ones get rid of the covid is, according to a study by Columbia University in the United States, in the production of immunity. Thus, according to this, children make more antibodies directed to the S protein S of Sars-Cov-2 that acts as an entry key to the cells to infect them. “It is possible that this is why the virus has more difficulty entering cells or expanding and replicating in the body,” says Blesa.
“It is more of a priority to vaccinate the adult population”, Garcés-Sánchez emphasizes, starting from there the question of what to do in the future when enough vaccines are available. “We will have to be attentive to how the virus evolves,” explains the pediatrician who also indicates that if it adapts like the rest of the coronavirus, “it will end up being a mild process that is limited to the child population.”
This is precisely another explanation given as to why minors have milder cases. Thus, being in regular contact with other coronaviruses similar to covid-19 would have allowed them to have generated antibodies prepared against them and that would serve as protection against the current Sars-Cov-2. However, children continue to be infected (although milder and to a lesser extent) and, above all, they can infect, although experts remember that its capacity is less.
“Vaccinating children in a context in which the majority of the population is immunized could help stop any possible transmission and avoid having reservoirs of the virus,” explains Salvador Peiró who, however, emphasizes that there are still many unknowns. Among these is the same as that of Dr. Garcés-Sánchez on how the virus and new variants will evolve. “Perhaps we will have to revaccinate ourselves in a time to reinforce the immunity against the evasion of some variants such as the Brazilian or the South African”He adds, and in that case, he emphasizes that minors “would be the last ones again.”
From the Valencian Society of Pediatrics, its president believes that “it is probably necessary to have children vaccinated at a certain time.” Of these, it specifies that it should be necessary to vaccinate those who are at risk of infection, such as those who are under immunosuppressive treatment.
For her part, the also member of the Vaccine Advisory Committee explains that with the “high” coverage in the rest of the population “and the data that indicate that the new vaccines could generate a certain degree of sterilizing immunity, they would have an important impact on the disease control without the need to vaccinate children. ‘ However, he believes that it is necessary to finish the vaccination studies in children “because we do not know how the virus is going to adapt as soon as we have vaccinated adults.”
Vaccinate pregnant women
Another related question is whether or not to vaccinate pregnant women. “Initially there is no data to say that they are not safe for pregnant women, the tests in animals have gone well “, assures Peiró. Thus, it indicates that in the first human trials samples from pregnant women were not included, however, midway through the process there were a few cases that had become pregnant (or were, but it was not known) and they did not have any complication.
From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention they assure that “messenger RNA vaccines are not believed to represent any kind of risk for infants” and remember that messenger RNA vaccines do not infect the virus or interact with DNA. “Experts believe that it is unlikely that they represent a specific risk for pregnant people”, expresses the recommendation of this institution.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.