Moderna Inc. has begun studying its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged six months to 11 years in the U.S. and Canada, the latest effort to widen the mass-vaccination campaign beyond adults.
The Cambridge, Mass. company said Tuesday that the first children have received doses in the study, which Moderna is conducting in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“This pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said.
The bulk of the U.S. Covid-19 vaccination campaign so far has focused on protecting adults, who are at higher risk of severe disease caused by the coronavirus than children. Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson ’s vaccines are authorized for use in adults 18 and older, while the vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE is cleared for use in people 16 and older.
Efforts have begun to test the Covid-19 vaccines in children, who can still become infected, both to protect them from the virus and further build the population-level immunity to move past pandemic restrictions.