- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that there should be data available on the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines on 12-to-17-year-old children by the fall, which coincides with the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

“We anticipate data on high school-age individuals — namely individuals 12 years old to 17 years old — by the beginning of the fall,” Dr. Fauci, a top health adviser to President Biden, told reporters.

He said hard data on elementary school-age children is unlikely to come before the first quarter of 2022.

Dr. Fauci said Pfizer-BioNTech is in the midst of a trial involving middle school- and high school-age children and that they plan to start studying children ages 5 through 12 in April.

He said other companies developing vaccines, including Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and AstraZeneca, are either launching similar studies or plan to do so in the near future.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for use in people ages 16 and older. Moderna has gotten emergency authorization for its vaccine in people ages 18 and older.

Older people are more likely to suffer severe adverse health effects from COVID-19, though children can still contract the virus and act as unwitting spreaders.

Mr. Biden is facing pressure on the new federal guidance for reopening schools and his administration’s mixed messaging on when it’s safe to reopen for in-person learning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines last week that include recommendations on mitigation efforts like masking and social distancing.

Under the guidelines, the majority of children in the U.S. live in the “red” zone with the highest rate of transmission.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that schools can reopen for in-person learning regardless of coronavirus transmission rates as long as certain safeguards are in place.

“In the [areas] that remain red, we say with universal masking and physical distancing and detoxification of classrooms, there are opportunities for in-person learning,” Dr. Walensky said. “Our numbers are coming down — I would actually invite schools to lean in and to look at what is needed in the road map to try and get more and more children back in school.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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