Nearly 300K additional San Diego children may soon be eligible for Pfizer vaccine
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A key FDA advisory panel has recommended a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the nation's 28 million children. Aged five to 11. A final decision from the agency is expected to be rendered within days, roughly 300,000 unvaccinated children in that age group live here in San Diego, making the recent authorization, a major step and ongoing efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Joining us once again, to discuss the development and more is Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps research translational Institute in LA Jolla. Dr. Topo, welcome back to the program. Thanks
Speaker 2: (00:38)
Jay. Great to be with
Speaker 1: (00:40)
You. So can you break down this final authorization process for us? What needs to happen before parents can sign their kids up for their doses?
Speaker 2: (00:48)
Well, it won't be long now anticipating the first week of November, when we have final go-ahead for these five to 11 year olds to get the 10 micrograms Pfizer dose. And then also in the queue is the Madonna vaccine. So that is a higher dose of the AMR and a half of the adult dose. And that is a bigger trial, almost twice the size. And so we're expecting that one to also get approved sometime in the month of November
Speaker 1: (01:16)
Vaccinating, this younger age group, one of the final pieces in getting through this pandemic.
Speaker 2: (01:21)
Well, it's certainly an essential part of building our Delta community wall and then potentially subsequent versions of the virus because we're well short of the population level immunity that we need to block this virus to get prevent the chain of spread that isn't just among children, but of course, uh, adults as well. So children are an important part there, a vector or a conduit in this process. And so even though most children, if they got COVID would get through it, okay, some will get quite ill. And also, I think what's important to not forget is that those should get a COVID infection can be effective with the so-called long COVID that is chronic symptoms, not as frequent as adults, but still it can occur. And then most importantly, this transmission chain that we can block. So if we can get a good portion of those 28 million children of this age group, uh, vaccinated, it's going to really help a lot to get the U S and the San Diego in great shape.
Speaker 1: (02:22)
What key data findings were reviewed by the panel with regards to side effects and efficacy for children?
Speaker 2: (02:29)
Well, the side effects were similar as two adults and teens. Uh, they're really the same sort of thing as a local reaction, arms, uh, discomfort, uh, and you know, fatigue and other symptoms that are kind of a mild flu case that can last a day or two. So the symptoms and the side effects are very similar.
Speaker 1: (02:50)
Can parents expect eventual approval of the vaccine for children under five? And if so, what's the timeline on that? That's the
Speaker 2: (02:58)
Last step? So this isn't the last one. There's one more group a, that one is not going to be probably until
Speaker 1: (03:05)
Early next year because, uh, those trials, uh, even younger children are ongoing health officials are currently monitoring a sub variant of Delta known as Delta plus, should this be a cause of concern?
Speaker 2: (03:19)
The nomenclature is a Y dot four dot two, not to get too fancy, but it's about 10% of the cases in the UK, but it has very little change in mutations from the original Delta stream. I just don't see it as a threat because Delta is so hyper contagious and there's minimal changes in this structure of this virus, a strain or, or a variant to make it any worse than Delta. We're going to have a, hopefully not see anything worse than Delta right now. It's taken over the whole world. As far as the dominant strain, it's going to be tough for another virus version to overtake it. I don't see this one as the one that could do that.
Speaker 1: (04:02)
Well, overall cases are down since the September surge, we are seeing a slight uptick in deaths nationally. What does this say about how we're handling the fourth wave of this panic?
Speaker 2: (04:13)
Well, we certainly haven't handled it as well as we could have. I mean, San Diego has done fairly well, but if you look around the country, there's still a lot of deaths over 1500 per day, as you noted. And it's partly because we didn't vaccinate the high-risk people nearly as well as other countries, many countries got people over age, 60, 65, 90 9% vaccinated. We're well short of that. And those are the people who are accounting for a large proportion of the deaths. So we have had to deal with anti-vaccine anti-science hesitancy misinformation, all these factors that have prevented the high-risk people from getting vaccinated. In addition, we have the problem of waning immunity. Those who are out more than six months, where if they are in a high-risk group, such as over age 50 or 60, they are the ones that are getting sick and some of them getting hospitalized. So we've got to get the boosters in those people as soon as possible. Once they've reached around that six month timeframe,
Speaker 1: (05:13)
And as you mentioned, many Americans still remain unvaccinated ahead of the holidays. What guidance would you give to those who are vaccinated about being around unvaccinated people?
Speaker 2: (05:24)
This is a concern because as everyone knows, you could have the virus and not ever be symptomatic or be happening before you develop this symptom and spread it. And even vaccinated people at a lower level can do this. So if you're going to be getting together with people over the holidays, this is a cause for concern. If you're in areas where there's very low circulating virus, we're fortunately, uh, in many parts of California, that's the case. It's not as much of a worry, but if you're in places like Montana and Idaho, Alaska, many places where the virus is still raging, it's all over the place. That would not be a good place to take any chances. Of course, if we have rapid tests and you could get each person that you're going to get together with with a rapid home test and know the answer in minutes, that would help add security and confidence. But a lot of those rapid tests are too darn expensive. They're not widely available. And this is another shortcoming of the U S strategy.
Speaker 1: (06:28)
Hmm. And, and I want to circle back to, uh, parents with children under the age of five, since the vaccine for them could be much further down the line. What advice do you have for them in terms of limiting exposure to those children under the age of five?
Speaker 2: (06:44)
Well, th th the children under the age of five, shouldn't be a concern. As long as the older children and the adults are vaccine. The best protection we can have for the youngest is for everyone else in a household, they get vaccinated. So if parents have not been vaccinated and they're worried about their young children, they better get it now. And also if they are, um, in a waning immunity category, that'd be another reason to stay maximally protected and, and get a booster shot. So there shouldn't be a concern for the youngest kids. As long as household members are all vaccines.
Speaker 1: (07:20)
I've been speaking with Dr. Eric Topol, director of the scripts research translational Institute in LA Jolla. Dr. Toby, thank you so much for joining us. Thank
Speaker 2: (07:29)
A key Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel has recommended a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the nation’s 28 million children aged 5 to 11.
The announcement was made after members of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee determined the vaccine to be safe for children with minimal side effects.
A final decision from the FDA is expected to be rendered within days. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will consider whether it will recommend the shots.
Roughly 300,000 children in the 5-11 age group live in San Diego, making the recent recommendation a major step in ongoing local efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, joined Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss the recent recommendation and the impact vaccinating this age group would have.
"If we can get a good portion of those 28 million children of this age group vaccinated, then it's really going to help a lot to get the U.S. and San Diego in great shape," he said.
Dr. Topol continued, “It’s certainly an essential part of building our delta immunity wall and its potentially subsequent versions of the virus because we’re well short of the population level immunity that we need to block this virus, to prevent this chain of spread,”
2,200 children were a part of the Pfizer vaccine trials. Side effects have been similar to those experienced by adults and teens. Topol described those side effects as “a local reaction arm discomfort, fatigue and other symptoms that are a mild flu case can last a day or two.”
If authorized, children would receive two 10 micro-gram doses of the Pfizer vaccine, a third less than the doses for those 12 and older. The vaccines would be given 21 days apart.
“With respect to efficacy, for Pfizer, it was almost 91%, which is really quite striking," Topol said. "That is protection from symptomatic infections in children age 5 to 11 was reduced by 91%, that’s really impressive.”
There are currently ongoing trials of children younger than 5. Vaccine approval for that age group is not expected until early 2022.