by Graham Hill
The vaccine is being trialled on young children in Sheffield The new COVID-19 vaccine is likely to make some parents nervous. But it has got to be available or some child could be seriously ill or even die, says Dr Tony Sinclair from Liverpool Children’s Hospital. The baby died within weeks of vaccination despite earlier reports in the British Medical Journal. It is impossible to be sure yet whether this was the result of the vaccine. But many parents do like that they get to know what’s going on with their baby and to be involved in the process. Early trial Dr Sinclair started the clinical trial in 1999, and says it has been successful so far. But he says there are troubling times ahead. “The most challenging thing is going to be the final results,” he said. The vaccine is a copper chloride product which is not available on the NHS, and therefore can only be recommended by a GP or midwife and on prescription to all very young children. It was invented in the 1990s and this is the first time it is being tested in humans. It contains a full range of ingredients which includes iron, vaccine proteins and other additives, and it was selected by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. A spokesperson for the NHS said that whatever the final findings, they had endorsed the vaccine at the time because it had been backed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. “There have been no safety concerns. When a drug is called effective, it is because it works and also because of the side effects.” The first injection is between 12 and 20 days old and the last is seven to 10 months. By the time the process is complete the child will have had at least eight doses of the vaccine. Preliminary data suggest at this stage a very low safety risk for the children who have received the vaccine. But the safety data shows that as it ages, it may pose an increased risk. “We’re aware of the concern,” Dr John Snelling, from PHE said. “The data from this trial will show whether this vaccine, or any other vaccine, is safe for young children.” The vaccine is available on prescription to adults for use in the adult immunisation programme. The vaccine’s manufacturer, Pfizer said they would be happy to use the data in future, and asked if the government would recommend its use for young children. Paediatricians in the UK are likely to be very keen to recommend the vaccine. But that advice is unlikely to be given in a formal report for some time. It is very early days for this vaccine and there will likely be a further full report at the end of next year. But it is certainly the product that the experts will want to see in the future.
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