UK health chiefs aren’t considering jabbing babies against Covid yet – as US moves closer to controversially approving vaccines for under-5s
British health chiefs have yet to discuss the benefits of vaccinating under-5s against Covid, it emerged today.
A panel of leading US advisers yesterday unanimously voiced support for approving jabs for infants as young as six months, and the controversial move could be signed off in the coming days.
But the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which polices the safety of drugs in the UK, has yet to green light any jabs in the youngest children.
Sources close to the current roll-out say we’re ‘still some way off that point’.
British health chiefs have yet to discuss the benefits of vaccinating under-5s against Covid, it emerged today. Pictured: a 7 year-old child receives their first dose of the vaccine at the Beaumont Health offices in Southfield, Michigan
WHO: 20 countries still below 10% Covid jab rate
Twenty countries have still not vaccinated even 10 percent of their population against Covid, the World Health Organization’s vaccine advisers warned on Monday.
The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) said the speed of the Covid jab rollout had been ‘unprecedented’.
However, 20 mostly African countries — down from 34 in January — had still not managed a 10 per cent immunisation rate, Kate O’Brien, the WHO’s vaccines chief, told reporters.
‘These are countries that are working really hard to advance their programmes. Supply is no longer the issue. The legacy of all the supply constraint from 2021 – the effects of that (are) still being felt,’ she said.
SAGE said vaccination coverage among the groups most vulnerable to severe Covid-19 disease was not enough to give them the protection they needed.
Health worker coverage is at 65 percent overall.
‘That’s certainly a very, very strong position to be in, but we’re really carrying the message forward that it needs to be 100 percent,’ said O’Brien.
Coverage in the over-60s is at 69 percent – though the figure falls to 24 percent in some regions of the world.
The MHRA told MailOnline: ‘Approval applications are commercially sensitive.
‘Any data or application that are received will be evaluated in the shortest time possible maintaining our high standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.’
NHS jab centres began inoculating five- to 11-year-olds in April, using toys to distract them from the needles.
Children get specially-formulated doses, roughly a third of the strength of jabs given to adults.
Moderna and Pfizer’s new doses for under-fives are even weaker, but concerns still exist around side effects of the jab, with no real-world data available for how it will affect people under five.
One of the main fears is that the vaccines have been linked to cases of myocarditis, where the muscles in the heart become temporarily inflamed.
Covid itself, however, can also cause the condition.
The complication, thought to strike 11 per million children aged under 18 after their second dose, can cause chest pain, breathlessness, a pounding pulse and nausea.
But experts insist the majority of cases are mild, and that rates of the condition in Britain are lower than ones seen in Israel and the US, where fears were first sparked.
One reason why UK jab-related myocarditis rates appear much lower is doses are spaced eight to 12 weeks apart, compared with three weeks in other major nations.
Scientists believe this might reduce the risk of injury to heart cells.
And rates are actually slightly lower in children than in young adults, with boys and men in their early 20s at most risk.
The move towards jabbing under-fives is moving much more quickly in the US, where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last night approved doses for the age group.
US advisers said both brands appear to be safe and effective for children as young as six months old in analyses posted ahead of the all-day meeting.
After the FDA authorizes the shots, a green light from the CDC is expected soon after.
The White House had targeted June 21 — the day after the Juneteenth holiday on Monday — as the day where shots will first become available nationwide.