The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency approval for Pfizer’s bivalent Covid-19 shot for use as a booster in some infants and toddlers aged six months to four years. The shot can be given at least two months after the child completes their primary series of vaccinations. Children who have already had a Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine are not approved to receive the jab again, as they are considered to be adequately protected against serious Covid-19 complications.
The bivalent shot had previously been used as the third dose in the primary vaccination series for infants and children since December. Moderna’s mRNA bivalent vaccines have also been authorised for use in this age group. The authorisation now closes an inoculation gap for young children who were eligible to receive three monovalent Pfizer shots but were ineligible for the company’s bivalent booster.
Booster uptake in all age groups has fallen, with only 16 percent of Americans reportedly receiving the latest omicron-targeting shots. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently warned about the need for global coordination on the distribution of Covid-19 boosters, as wealthy nations such as the US are reportedly administering boosters without considering the need for developing countries. Experts have also cited the need to speed up the development of vaccines for children under five, who are currently at a disadvantage in accessing preventative measures against Covid-19.
On a positive note, Pfizer and BioNTech have increasingly been focused on developing an antiviral pill to treat Covid-19, as it could provide an alternative to vaccinations for people who cannot be inoculated or have limited access to vaccines. The pharmaceutical firms have reported encouraging preliminary results of the treatment, which in late-stage studies, reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death by 89 percent. Pfizer is seeking regulatory approval and has been ramping up production of the pill. It’s also hopeful of delivering a new oral drug that could protect against Covid-19 before year-end.