We should give children Covid vaccines 'as fast as we can' - according to a SAGE expert

The vaccine rollout should turn to children "as fast as we can" according to a SAGE expert (Photo: Shutterstock)

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has said that until everyone, including children, has been vaccinated, then there will be “significant risk of resurface” of the virus.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “I think there’s an argument for turning to children as fast as we can.

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“I mean, I have two children myself, they are in secondary schools and I think that there has been major disruption at schools and there will continue to be major disruption in schools until we have vaccinated our children.”

‘Must be safe for children’

Speaking to the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that clinical trials on the use of vaccines for children would determine the safety and efficacy of giving vaccinations to young age groups.

He said: “There are two points here; one is that it absolutely must be safe, specifically for children, so that is being currently investigated.

“And the second is - because children very, very rarely get symptoms and serious illness from the disease - the value, the importance of vaccinating children is to try and stop the spread of the disease and obviously that’s something - the impact of the vaccine on stopping transmissions is something - that we have early evidence of.

“It looks like the first jab reduces your impact of transmitting the disease by about two-thirds - but we need more evidence on that as well.”

Clinical trials to test vaccine among children

The efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in children is being tested in a new clinical trial, where researchers will use 300 volunteers to assess whether the jab will produce a strong immune response in children aged between six and 17.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three vaccines to have been approved for use in adults in the UK, alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it’s important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination.

“These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups.”

Speaking to ITV News, Professor Jonathan Vam-Tam said: “It’s perfectly possible that we will have some licensed children’s vaccines for Covid-19 by the end of the year.”