Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has claimed it’s ‘perfectly possible’ the UK will be giving coronavirus vaccines to children by the end of the year.
England’s deputy chief medical officer revealed that ‘several’ trials were about to get underway to test whether the current crop of Covid jabs are both safe and effective in youngsters.
The approved vaccines by Pfizer, Oxford University and Moderna, are currently only allowed to be given to adults because initial studies never included children.
There is no indication that they wouldn’t be safe but a lack of concrete evidence has held regulators back from giving the move the green light.
Extremely clinically vulnerable children, such as those with terminal illnesses, can be considered for the vaccines already, but their family need to go through their GP and they are not routinely being invited like other priority groups.
Children rarely fall ill with coronavirus, which means there is not huge clamour to get under-16s vaccinated. But they can pick up and spread the disease.
Professor Van-Tam told ITV News: ‘I believe most of the major manufacturers are now starting to turn their attention to whether we can do some clinical trials to prove that our vaccines are safe and effective in children.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has claimed it’s ‘perfectly possible’ the UK will be giving coronavirus vaccines to children by the end of the year
‘I know several (trials) are now under way looking at basically the kind of teenage group.
‘And it is perfectly possible that we will have some licensed children’s vaccines for Covid by the end of the year. It is perfectly possible, but not assured.’
Professor Van-Tam added: ‘That shouldn’t put you off, if your doctor agrees with you, that it’s the right thing for your son or daughter to be vaccinated because of their vulnerability.
‘But it is an individual, always an individual decision when you’re using medicines and vaccines outside of the label.’
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that the Government is doing ‘everything we can’ to return children to school by March 8.
In the Commons, he said: ‘I can certainly confirm that we’re going to do everything we can… to get our kids… schoolchildren back on March 8 if we possibly can.
Elderly people and patients with underlying health conditions are among the top four priority groups which make up 15million set to be vaccinated by February 15
Britain has dished out 10% of all Covid vaccines in the world with 13million people now jabbed
Britain has dished out 10 per cent of the entire world’s coronavirus vaccines, figures show — but critics have warned against complacency as data suggests the national rollout has ‘hit a wall’.
Despite its small population on the global stage, the UK has administered a whopping 13.5million out of 146million doses given out internationally.
According to the statistics compiled by the Oxford University-based research platform Our World in Data, this puts Britain in third place behind only the US and China, which have far larger populations.
The figures also show more doses have been dished out here than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain combined. European commission president Ursula von der Leyen today issued a grovelling apology for the EU’s jab shambles, admitting the bloc acted ‘late’ and was ‘over-confident’.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair today said the speed with which Covid jabs were developed and rolled out was an ‘inspiration’ but added that it was ‘unfair’ poorer countries were missing out due to a lack of a global strategy.
‘In the week of the 22nd we’ll be setting out a road map and setting out the way forward for schools.’
It comes amid a vaccine priority row over claims council staff who work with children were offered the chance to skip the Covid vaccine queue.
Staff at council-run Reynolds Children’s Day Care in Cleethorpes, North East Lincs, are among a group of authority employees said to have been offered the coronavirus jab.
This is despite the role of ‘childcare worker’ not being mentioned as part of the vaccine priority list.
However, bosses at North East Lincolnshire Council say staff members at the day care centre were entitled to receive the vaccine as ‘front line social care workers’.
They also say the guidance has been tightened in recent days to reduce ‘misunderstandings’ over vaccine priority.
Frontline health staff and social workers were listed as the second priority group by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as part of its guidance in December.
Though the guidance did not name specific roles, it stated that frontline health and social care workers who ‘provide care to vulnerable people’ were to be considered as a ‘high priority for vaccination’.
The guidance also stated that there was an increased risk of infection among residential care home staff, as well as those providing domiciliary care and healthcare workers.
But it did not mention childcare workers.
Instead, it stated that ‘the single greatest risk of mortality from Covid is increasing age’ and that only those children at ‘very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes’ — such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care — should be offered vaccination at an early stage.
However, local councillor Debbie Rodwell, ward member for Sidney Sussex, where the Reynolds Day Care Centre is located, said she had received complaints about staff being offered vaccines at the childcare facility.
She said: ‘A number of people have contacted me as they have not been vaccinated as Reynolds has.
‘When I contacted the council they said the rules were not clear before Christmas but they have since been clarified and have tightened up the rules.
‘I can understand the upset of those people who are doing the same job as those who have had the vaccine and qualify because they are classed as being on the frontline.
‘It is difficult but I am not surprised when others working in children’s centres or in schools who are doing the same have not been offered it.’
Another resident in the area, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was ‘not happy’ about the situation.
She told Grimsby Live: ‘All local providers are very unhappy that the one setting giving access to the vaccine is the one that is owned by the local authority.
‘All settings on the frontline are facing the same risks but have not been treated as equal.
‘A lot of settings in the area are aware and not happy with the inequality of the situation.’