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Moderna Begins Testing its COVID-19 Vaccine in Young Children

FILE - In this March 4, 2021, photo a syringe of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a drive-up mass vaccination site in Puyallup, Wash., south of Seattle.

U.S.-based pharmaceutical company Moderna has begun testing its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine in young children to determine if vaccinations should be expanded to people younger than 18 years of age.

The company will administer the vaccine to about 6,750 children in the United States and Canada between the ages of six months and 12 years old. The doses would be given 28 days apart so researchers can monitor the side effects from the vaccine and determine its ultimate effectiveness.

The study is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped Moderna in development of the vaccine.

Moderna has been conducting a separate study on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness since December involving 3,000 children between the ages of 12 and 18 years old.

A nurse draws a Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Los Angeles, March 12, 2021.
A nurse draws a Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Los Angeles, March 12, 2021.

In a related development, the Vietnamese government says its homegrown COVID-19 vaccine called Nanocovax will be available by the end of this year. Vietnam has inoculated more 15,000 of its citizens with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this month, and is negotiating to purchase more vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and the developer of Russia’s Sputnik V.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Wednesday that the country will send about 8,000 doses of its supply of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to neighboring Papua New Guinea, which is battling an ever-increasing spread of the disease. Prime Minister Morrison also called on the European Union and AstraZeneca to ship one million doses of the vaccine to Papua New Guinea that had been purchased by Canberra.

The EU recently blocked a shipment of more than 250,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia in order to help make up an acute shortage of vaccines in Europe, plus Australia’s success in largely containing the virus.

Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told reporters that half of expectant mothers who have been admitted to hospitals in the capital of Port Moresby have tested positive for COVID-19. Kelly said large numbers of frontline health care workers have also contracted the virus.

Morrison says all travel between Australia and Papua New Guinea has been suspended.