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Moderna has begun testing its coronavirus vaccine in children as young as age 12

Moderna Inc announced on Thursday that it has begun testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children.

The phase II/III trial is expected to enroll 3,000 participants between the ages of 12 and 17, according to a press release from the biotechnology company.

Half of the volunteers will be given two shots of Moderna’s immunization, known as mRNA-1273, four weeks apart and the other half will receive salt water placebos.   

Researchers will look at the safety and efficacy of the inoculation in children, and they will be followed for 12 months after the second vaccination. 

On Thursday, Moderna Inc began testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children between ages 12 and 17 (file image)

A total of 3,000 participants will be enrolled with half receiving two injections of the jab and the other half receiving a placebo. Pictured: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, May 2020

A total of 3,000 participants will be enrolled with half receiving two injections of the jab and the other half receiving a placebo. Pictured: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, May 2020

‘We are pleased to begin this Phase 2/3 study of mRNA-1273 in healthy adolescents in the US,’ Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.

‘Our goal is to generate data in the spring of 2021 that will support the use of mRNA-1273 in adolescents in advance of the 2021 school year.

‘We hope we will be able to provide a safe vaccine to provide protection to adolescents so they can return to school in a normal setting.’ 

According to clinicaltrials.gov, a registry of clinical trials run by the US National Library of Medicine, the study is expected to be completed in June 2022. 

The website also states that testing locations will be in Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.    

A Moderna spokeswoman would not disclose to DailyMail.com how many children have been enrolled to date.

Another vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer Inc, has been testing its coronavirus vaccine in children as young as age 12 since October. AstraZeneca has also begun testing kids, but not in the US.

However, by and large, children, who rarely develop severe COVID-19 symptoms or require hospitalization for the disease, have not been tested in trials for experimental jabs. 

In a statement posted in October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that clinical trials had only included healthy, non-pregnant adults up that point.

However, the federal agency noted the recommended groups could change in the future as clinical trials expand to recruit more people.     

‘In early clinical trials for various COVID-19 vaccines, only non-pregnant adults participated,’ the statement read.

‘However, clinical trials continue to expand those recruited to participate. The groups recommended to receive the vaccines could change in the future.’ 

Children are often the last group to be tested during clinical trials because they are not merely little adults.

Their bodies and immune systems behave differently, meaning they might have different treatment needs.  

What’s more, children may need different doses or needle sizes depending on their  height, weight and age – which is why most children are only vaccinated after safety has been well-documented in the adult population. 

Moderna’s vaccine was developed in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.

It uses part of the pathogen’s genetic code called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to get the body to recognize the coronavirus and attack it if a person becomes infected.

The candidate works by tricking the body into producing some of the viral proteins, which the immune system then recognizes and builds a defensive response against.

Last month, clinical trial data found the vaccine is 94.1 percent effect at preventing COVID-19 and 100 percent effective at preventing severe disease.

The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is holding a meeting on Moderna’s jab on December 17. If approved, healthcare workers and long-term care residents will be the first groups vaccinated.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk