Children as young as three can receive Sinovac vaccine, experts recommend

Local | 15 Nov 2021 10:26 pm

Children as young as three can receive the Beijing-made Sinovac vaccine against Covid-19, government-appointed experts have recommended.

Currently, only adults aged above 18 are able to get the Sinovac jabs.

Experts from two Department of Health scientific committees have recommended the government administer Sinovac's CoronaVac to children as young as three after holding a meeting Monday afternoon.

They considered clinical trial statistics published in medical journals, observations on mainland and initial clinical statistics from South Africa and Chile, and found the vaccine to be safe among those aged between 3 and 17.

As compared to adults aged 16 or above, the vaccine can create more antibodies in the younger group.

The Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee will review the recommendation. It is not immediate known when children will be arranged to get the Sinovac jabs.

Sinovac applied to lower the age limit to three years old to the Hong Kong government last month.

According to a study conducted by the company in October in China, the vaccine is safe and effective for people aged three to 17.

More than 110 million doses of Sinovac doses have been administered to children aged 3 to 17 in mainland China. The incidence of adverse reactions after the second dose was much lower than after the first dose, the company said.

It has also said those aged 3 to 17 who joined the clinical trial tested positive for antibodies three months after receiving both doses.

Chile, Indonesia and Cambodia have also approved for children as young as six years old to get the Sinovac shots.

The lowered age requirement for the Sinovac vaccine could also lead to the resumption of full-day classes in primary schools in Hong Kong.

Currently, only schools that manage to achieve a 70 percent vaccination rate among students and staff can apply to resume full-day classes.

In a radio program on Monday, Society of Hospital Pharmacists president William Chui Chun-ming said Sinovac’s study on vaccination for children is limited because its clinical trial only involved around 130 children.

He said: “The statistics are very limited because the [Sinovac] study only included 56 children aged between three and five and 81 kids aged six to 11. The data [on vaccination for children] is very little."

But he believed experts would still approve administering Sinovac jabs on children because more than 100 million children and teenagers aged between 3 and 17 have received the jab in China.

Chui called for the authorities to discuss lowering the age limit for BioNTech vaccines to five years old as well so that parents will be able to choose between the two jabs.

He said children receiving the BioNTech vaccine can develop a higher antibody level while Sinovac takers only have mild side effects.

The government has lowered the age requirement for the German-made BioNTech/Fosun vaccine to 12 in June this year.

It is understood that Fosun Pharma did not submit applications to the Hong Kong government to further lower the age limit.

The experts recommended the government to get in touch with Fosun to discuss the matter and get more information.

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