We know that vaccine studies focus on adults and that some studies may include adolescents from 16 years of age. When do you expect investigations into the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children will start?
I am sure the studies will be carried out during 2021. The first and foremost thing is to establish safety in children, because their immune response is different from adults and can be different at different ages, from infancy to adolescence.
What recommendations would you give to those who will be developing a vaccine for children?
I do not think there will be separate vaccines for children. The doses may be adapted. I would prefer to stay away from strong *adjuvants like ASO3, which was associated with narcolepsy following swine flu vaccine Pandemrix. Children have a good immune response and do not need strong adjuvants.
If I could have my choice, I would start with mRNA vaccines with lower dose. Probably the whole virus vaccines like Sinovac’s would be OK for children but they are not likely to be available in Europe.
*An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine. In other words, adjuvants help vaccines work better.
January 25, 2021
Professor Timo Vesikari, MD, PhD, is the Founder and CEO Nordic Research Network (NRN) Ltd. He has been Director of Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at University of Tampere from 2004 to 2019. His previous positions with the University include Professor of Pediatrics (1981–1987) and Professor of Virology (1991–2012).