China has approved the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine made by Beijing-based pharmaceutical company Sinovac for children as young as three, becoming the first country to offer jabs to young children.
Children between the age of three and 17 can now receive the Sinovac vaccine, the drugmaker has confirmed.
Early phase trials of the vaccine have been completed on children and adolescents with results to be published shortly in the Lancet scientific journal, a spokesperson for Sinovac said.
“In recent days, the Sinovac vaccine was approved for emergency use in three- to 17-year-olds,” they told AFP news agency.
The Sinovac jab will be rolled out to young children “according to China’s current epidemic prevention and control needs and vaccine supply” as determined by the National Health Commission, they added.
In a statement, the UN health agency said that it recommends the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older and that efficacy results showed the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51 per cent of those fully vaccinated.
But it could not estimate the vaccine efficacy in people over 60, as there were few older adults enrolled in clinical trials.
China’s other WHO-approved vaccine, Sinopharm, has not confirmed whether its jab has been approved for use in children.
In the UK, the vaccine developed by Pfizer has received approval for use in children aged 12 to 15 by Britain’s medicines regulator.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the jab has been proven to be safe and highly effective in that age group.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the government has now asked the JCVI to “advise whether routine vaccination should be offered to younger people aged 12 to 17”.