“It’s a matter of days, not weeks,” Pfizer President and CEO Albert Bourla told ABC News Sunday about when the company will submit data on children ages 5 to 11 to the FDA for consideration.
Currently, Covid-19 vaccines are only approved for children 12 and older, which has raised concern among health experts as cases in children rise, the school years begin, and the more transmissible Delta variant spreads.
Once the Pfizer / BioNTech data is in, they will have to go through two committees, one for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and one for the CDC, the CNN medical analyst said Sunday. , Dr. Johnathan Reiner. If the data arrives this week, it will likely be in commission by the end of October, he added.
And there is a lot of data for you to examine, he said.
“This is a vaccine for children, so getting the correct dose, in terms of efficacy and side effects, is crucial,” Reiner said.
But even when a vaccine is available, a difficult task lies ahead of vaccinating children. Less than half of American teens are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a CNN analysis of CDC data.
In response, officials must do a better job of educating the public about the importance of vaccination to the health of their children and their families in general, Reiner said.
“If you want children to go to school, the best way to keep them in school is to prevent them from contracting Covid,” he said.
“We know how to keep them safe,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CBS on Sunday. “When we don’t use proper mitigation, they are more likely to have outbreaks.”
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he encourages parents to vaccinate their children when they can.
“This is a dangerous pathogen,” Gottlieb told CNN. “I would not be so arrogant about this virus, we know that this virus has long-term consequences for many people who contract it, including children.”
The current increase is likely to subside by Thanksgiving, says Gottlieb
Gottlieb predicted Sunday that the current increase in the spread of the coronavirus is likely to worsen in parts of the country and then disappear by Thanksgiving.
“I think you’ll see a wave of infection across the Northeast when kids go back to school, the weather turns cold and people move indoors,” Gottlieb told CNN’s Pamela Brown.
The virus will not go away, Gottlieb said, but is expected to reach more manageable levels, which he estimates at about 20,000 cases per day.
According to the CDC, the current seven-day average of new cases in the US is more than 114,000 new cases per day.
The decline in cases is likely due to the majority of people gaining immunity to the virus, Gottlieb said.
“Some people will get a vaccine; some will challenge their immunity with no choice but to become infected,” Gottlieb explained. “People who choose not to get vaccinated will be vulnerable to becoming infected through this Delta wave.”
As the U.S. enters flu season, Gottlieb said demand for tests will increase as people and their doctors try to determine whether their flu-like symptoms are due to Covid-19 or influenza. .
“That is why it is so important that diagnostic tests reach consumers and also doctors’ offices – things like where people can test at home will make the difference between distinguishing between Covid and other respiratory infections, especially when the flu it is contagious, “Gottlieb said.
But even if Covid-19 cases drop by Thanksgiving, health experts are bracing for a tough winter ahead. It’s not yet clear what this year’s flu season holds, but it could add additional stress to an already stressed health care system.
Last year’s flu numbers were low, which health experts say could mean the next few seasons may be worse, as there has been little build-up of immunity.
“We have a huge flu season ahead of us at some point,” Gottlieb said Sunday.
Recommending reinforcement for frontline workers is a ‘close scientific decision,’ says CDC director
“And because of that close call, and because of all the evidence that we reviewed at the FDA and the CDC, I thought it was appropriate that those people were eligible for the boosters,” Walensky told CBS’s “Face the Nation” show on Sunday. .
“So who are those people? People who live and work in high-risk settings. That includes people in homeless shelters, people in group homes, people in prisons. But also, more importantly, they are people who work with vulnerable communities, so our healthcare workers, our teachers, our grocery workers, our public transportation employees, “Walensky said.
Although CDC vaccine advisers voted against recommending booster doses for people at high risk of infection due to their working or living conditions, Walensky accepted FDA clearance to include those people.
Currently, the recommendation is not intended for the general population, but there is little fear of causing dangerous side effects from adding that third dose, Walensky said.
“We have an extraordinary amount of security data,” he said.
CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.