The European Medicines Agency (EMA), has approved vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech to be used on children as young as 12 years of old.
Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to send 900 million doses of the vaccine, called Comirnaty, with the option to send another 900 million more.
The approval by EMA comes weeks after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), called for a halt on vaccinating children and adolescents, who are not vulnerable to COVID-19. Tedros suggested those vaccines be donated to more vulnerable patients in poorer countries.
Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO and Chairman of Pfizer, said the company was looking into whether or not yearly COVID-19 vaccinations will be necessary as the virus develops.
“Ongoing vaccination beyond 2021 is critical as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly throughout Europe and the globe. More than a year later, we continue to learn about COVID-19 and are working to determine if, similar to seasonal influenza, annual vaccination may provide the most enduring protection. We are proud to be in a position to be a long-term partner in the EU’s fight against this devastating pandemic and remain steadfast in our commitment to potentially produce and deliver billions more doses of our vaccine each year.”
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, also predicts the pandemic lasting for years, and is prepared to provide vaccines to Europe through 2023.
“There is growing evidence that COVID-19 will continue to pose a public health challenge for years. This contract with the European Commission will ensure sufficient doses of Comirnaty are available for all EU citizens in 2022 and 2023. With these additional doses and our continued investments in research and development aimed at adapting our vaccine to address new and emerging variants, we will continue to make a significant impact in the EU’s efforts to protect public health.”
Pfizer and BioNTech aim to collectively manufacture at least 2.5 billion doses of the Comirnaty shot, and potentially up to 3 billion by the year’s close.