USA Today: Moderna needs at least 3,000 adolescent volunteers for its COVID-19 vaccine trial. They're struggling to find them.
By Karen Weintraub
Not enough adolescents are signing up for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial, a federal official said this week, potentially delaying vaccine authorization for this age group.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration OK'd use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 16- to 17-year-olds, as well as adults. The companies did not have enough data in younger adolescents to apply for use in that age group, and Moderna had tested its vaccine only in adults, so it is authorized only for those 18 and up.
About four weeks ago, Moderna launched a trial in 12- to 17-year-olds, but apparently, the company is struggling to find enough adolescent volunteers.
A spokesman for Pfizer said the company hopes to have data from 12- to 15-year-olds in the early part of this year and then, based on those findings, could start a trial in younger children in the spring.
For its part, Moderna said its trial is going just fine.
"While enrollment was lower over the holiday season, we expect to see an increase in the new year as planned," a spokesperson said via email. "We are on track to provide updated data around mid-year 2021."
Still, there are plenty of parents and teens who want to participate in vaccine trials, said Dr. Barbara Pahud, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of research for the Infectious Diseases Division at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
Pahud is not helping to run any pediatric trials yet, but she plans to, and expects many in her community and elsewhere will want to join as word of the trials gets out.
"A month from now, the situation might look very different," she said.
Pahud said she's not surprised that Moderna is taking longer to sign on teens than adults. Pediatric trials, she said, are simply used to a slower pace.
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Learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccine at Children's Mercy