Moderna to begin COVID-19 trials on children

The first children in the United States are now receiving Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. It's part of a study testing its safety and effectiveness for kids. News4Jax reporter Kelly Wiley explains -- UF Health Jacksonville plans to participate in the clinic if it gets the go-ahead.

Moderna announced Tuesday that the first trial of its COVID-19 vaccine on children is underway.

Participants in the “KidCOVE” study of the biotech company’ RNA vaccines in testing children between 6 months to less than 12 years in both the United States and Canada. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and in partnership with the National Institutes and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“It is humbling to know that 17.8 million adults in the U.S. have received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to date,” Moderna’s Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said. “We are encouraged by the primary analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study of mRNA-1273 in adults ages 18 and above and this pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population.”

The company intends to enroll about 6,750 pediatric participants in the study.

Tamara Gitchell, a mother of two who lives in Jacksonville, says she has an autoimmune condition and received the Moderna shot. On Tuesday, she signed up her children for the KidCOVE study.

“My kids are 4 and 10. They’re not going to be vaccinated until maybe next year. So that’s kind of my thought process. And that, you know, we can get ahead of the game and, you know, nobody will get sick,” Gitchell said.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore is a pediatric epidemiologist at UF Health Jacksonville. He says the hospital is not currently participating in the study, but that it will once approved by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Institutional Review Board.

Rathore says in children, researchers are looking at the body’s ability to respond to the vaccine to provide protection.

“I think the vaccine would be helpful to keep children healthy. I think we’d have to do some more studies to see if any of these vaccines can also prevent infection,” Rathore said. “That is not known at this time for any of the vaccines.”

The trial is broken into two parts. In part one, different dosages of the vaccine are being tested on the children. Children between the ages of 6 months and 1 year old will receive two doses of the vaccine spaced about 28 days apart at either a 25 or a 50 or a 100 microgram level. Children between the ages of 2 and 11 will receive two doses of the vaccine spaced about 28 days apart at either a 50 or a 100 microgram level.

Moderna is doing the tests to see if the vaccine protects children from getting sick if they come into contact with coronavirus, according to the clinical trial’s patient information website.

Moderna is not the only COVID-19 vaccine currently being tested in children, as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is being studied in children as well. Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to study the vaccine in adolescents, ages 12 to 18.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.