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Oxford University starts AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial on children as young as six for the first time

The University of Oxford has launched a new study to assess the safety of its AstraZeneca vaccine in children for the first time. Children as young as 6 years old will be tested with the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a new statement last Friday, the university says the trial will assess immune response with the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in kids ages 6 to 17 years. The first inoculations is expected to take place during this month.

In the single-blind, randomized phase II trial, a total of 300 volunteers with up to 240 participants will receive the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, while the remainder a control will receive a meningitis vaccine, which is safe for children and produces similar reactions. 

“While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination, said Andrew Pollard, Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, and Chief Investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial. “These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups,” he added.

Rinn Song, Paediatrician and Clinician-Scientist of Oxford Vaccine Group said that, “the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound negative impact on the education, social development and emotional well-being of children and adolescents, beyond illness and rare severe disease presentations. It is therefore important to collect data on the safety and the immune response to our coronavirus vaccine in these age groups, so that they could potentially benefit from inclusion in vaccination programs in the near future.”

The trial is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and AstraZeneca.

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