Moderna has announced its vaccine is effective in 12- to 18-year-olds after a study saw no cases of Covid-19 in those who had two doses.
The biotech company said it would submit its data, based on 3,700 teenagers, to regulators globally in early June.
It comes just weeks after the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine was approved by the US for use in children aged 12 to 15 years after the company reported 100% protection.
Currently no Covid vaccine is authorised for use in children in the UK.
The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency previously told Pulse it was still scrutinising child Covid vaccine trials to consider whether to authorise the use of vaccines in younger ages.
A paediatric trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was launched in February but it later ‘postponed’ vaccinations ‘to allow further discussions with the MHRA’ following the reports of rare blood clots.
Announcing the results from the phase 2/3 TeenCOVE study of its Covid-19 vaccine in adolescents, Moderna said there was a vaccine efficacy of 93% in seronegative participants starting 14 days after the first dose.
After two doses, no cases of Covid-19 were seen in the vaccine group compared with four cases in the placebo group.
In a statement, the company said because the incidence rate of Covid-19 is lower in adolescents, an analysis of those presenting with milder symptoms was included and there were no safety concerns.
Earlier in the year, experts had suggested Covid-19 vaccination in children was likely to be rolled out in the autumn.
Some paediatricians have warned of a balancing act when considering vaccination in children and adolescents who face a much lower risk from Covid while many vulnerable adults globally had not yet been immunised.
Commenting on the Moderna announcement, Professor Russell Viner, professor of adolescent health at University College London, said this and previous data from Pfizer show that mRNA vaccines are as immunogenic and effective in teenagers as they are in adults although we still need to see the data in full.
He said: ‘The FDA in the USA has already provided an emergency licence to Pfizer for use of its vaccine in 12-16 year olds and the MHRA are considering the same. Given the similarity of findings for Moderna, similar decisions are likely.’
But he added: ‘Having licensed vaccine for teenagers does not mean we should vaccinate them – and there are still a range of complex questions to consider about the benefits and risks of vaccinating the teenage population.
‘One group we should however proceed to vaccinate is teenagers who are highly clinically vulnerable and at greater risk of more serious disease.’