The extension of the Covid vaccine to 12 to 15 year-olds is a matter of “whether it’s better for a child to get vaccinated than risk getting Covid”, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.
Professor Christina Pagel shared a thread on Twitter in which she claims that the vaccine is “always beneficial in preventing death or long Covid” because a vaccine “causes neither”.
“For hospital admissions, vaccination is only worse if Covid prevalence is low enough that we will see only a handful of children hospitalised with it (fewer than the 100 admissions expected from vaccinating 2.5 million kids. But it isn’t low enough. It’s nowhere near,” Pagel said.
It comes after the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that children aged 12-15 will be offered the Pfizer-BionNTech vaccine if they are at increased risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
Although the long-term impacts of vaccination is unknown, Pagel explained that from what is known about Covid, the virus is “far likelier” to have long-term negative impacts than the vaccine.
THREAD on offering Covid vaccine to 12-15 year olds and why I think we should. 1/16— Prof. Christina Pagel (@chrischirp) August 26, 2021
Drawing upon data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows that over seven million 12 to 15 year-olds have received a Covid vaccine in the US, the Professor claims the “vaccination offers significant benefit to teens in preventing illness.”
Pagel, who is the director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at University College London, goes on to say that we should also consider the “beneficial impact that vaccination teens would have on reducing overall transmission to others”.
According to research, while it has been reported that some children can develop Myocarditis – a rare complication of coronavirus – after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, risk assessments for vaccinations have presented a “favourable balance” for all age groups.
“So, if we vaccinated all 2.5 million 12-15 year-olds in England, there might be 100 cases of mild heart inflammation needing hospital for a few days,” Pagel said.
Sharing an article from the New England Journal of Medicine, the Professor compared the harms of Covid, describing how the virus could risk children becoming sick enough to require hospital treatment, with the risk of heart inflammation “way higher” with the virus than the vaccine.
Harms from vax: Children can (rarely) develop mild heart inflammation after Pfizer (~40 kids/million vaxxed). Most have been in hospital for a few days. So far almost all have recovered rapidly. https://t.co/L0yN4ZrJeJ— Prof. Christina Pagel (@chrischirp) August 26, 2021
There have been NO reported vax associated deaths. 5/16
In June, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory concluded the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective for 12-15 year-olds.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said: “We have in place a comprehensive safety surveillance strategy for monitoring the safety of all UK-approved COVID-19 vaccines and this surveillance will include the 12- to 15-year age group.
“No extension to an authorisation would be approved unless the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness have been met.”
‘Cases driven by 15-25 year-olds’
In a similar thread published on the social media platform last Thursday, Pagel explained that in Scotland, cases are being driven by 15-25 year-olds.
“It looks like it might be a combo of opening on 9 August and some tourism. Schools only went back mid last week so only just contributing. But could be behind the big jumps over the last 2 days,” she said.
However, the Professor then went on to explain that because cases are concentrated in younger people in Scotland, we have yet to see big increases in hospitalisations. “The unknown is whether cases will start to go up in older people too.”
‘Global vaccine equity’
Concluding the thread, Pagel stressed that she supports global vaccine equity, but explained that it’s “not one versus the other.”
Referencing an article from The Lancet, she suggested it would be “problematic” for countries to keep doses of the vaccine for use as boosters, if children were to be vaccinated.
Cases in under 19s in Scotland are going up a lot and will go up further.— Prof. Christina Pagel (@chrischirp) August 26, 2021
We have far fewer mitigations in schools in England and kids are returning to school with higher community cases rates than Scotland.
Vax would prevent many cases of covid – and severe disease. 12/16 pic.twitter.com/v6jYuF5WRy
Research from The Economist has shown that worldwide vaccine production – which totals over 5 billion doses a year – will fall short of new massive demands.
Meanwhile, according to the Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity an estimated 53.79 per cent of populations in higher income countries have been vaccinated compared to 1.63 per cent of lower income countries.
It comes as the United States government said this month that eligible people can receive a “booster” shot of the Moderna or Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines, despite less than two percent of people in low-income countries receiving their first dose.
Concerned about the widening gap in vaccinations between wealthy and poor countries, the World Health Organisation is calling for a temporary ban on booster jabs until the end of September.
Director general, Tedros Adhanon Ghebreysus, said: “I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it.”
NHS to prepare for vaccine rollout
On Saturday, ministers instructed the NHS to begin planning for the rollout of Covid vaccines to all children aged 12-15 from September, the Financial Times reported.
The department for health said that NHS England would begin to take steps – such as locating additional staff to administer jabs at schools – in preparation for any future announcement.
Speaking to ITV News, the education secretary Gavin Williamson said “the NHS is always planning and always working up every single scenario and it’s quite right that they do that”.
According to the BBC, the JCVI advised that all 16 and 17 year-olds should be given a first dose of a vaccine.
Unlike other age brackets, however, no second dose has yet been scheduled.