The European Union's drug watchdog Thursday approved Moderna's anti-Covid shot for children aged six to 11, the second vaccine to be approved for younger children in the 27-member bloc.
"The EMA's human medicines committee (CHMP) has recommended granting an extension of indication for the Covid-19 vaccine Spikevax to include use in children aged 6 to 11," the Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency said in a statement.
The jab, developed by US-based pharmaceutical company Moderna, has already been approved for adults and children aged 12 and above.
"As in the older age group, the vaccine is given as two injections in the muscles of the upper arm, four weeks apart," the EMA said.
Pfizer/BionTech's anti-Covid shot called Comirnaty was greenlit for children aged five to 11 in November.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The regulator has so far approved five vaccines for use in the EU: Pfizer and Moderna, which use messenger RNA technology, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, which use viral vector technology, and Novavax, which is based on a spike protein produced in a laboratory.Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here