Trial will use 300 volunteers to assess whether jab produces strong immune response in children aged six to 17
The efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in children is due to be tested in a new clinical trial beginning this month.

Researchers will use 300 volunteers to assess whether the jab - known as the the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine - produces a strong immune response in children aged between six and 17.

The Oxford jab is one of three to have already been approved for use in adults in the UK, along with those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Comment: It received emergency authorisation for adults, because its safety is not known, this is why Switzerland has banned its use for the time being.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said it was rare for Covid-19 to cause death and severe illness to children.

Comment: So why test a vaccine on them that they will never need?

"In children, the evidence is now clear that Covid-19 is associated with a considerably lower burden of morbidity and mortality compared to that seen in the elderly," it said.

"There is also some evidence that children may be less likely to acquire the infection. The role of children in transmission, once they have acquired the infection, is unclear, although there is no clear evidence that they are any more infectious than adults."

Comment: Moreover, healthy people - young and old - showing no signs of illness do not spread the virus.

The first vaccinations under the trial will take place this month, with up to 240 children receiving the vaccine and the others receiving a control meningitis jab.

Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: "While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination.

Comment: These children are being used as guinea pigs in an experimental vaccine trial that has not been proven to be safe.

"These new trials will extend our understanding of control of Sars-CoV2 to younger age groups."

Earlier this week, England's deputy chief medical officer said several trials were under way to develop vaccines that are safe and effective in teenagers.

"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," Prof Van-Tam told ITV News.

"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.

"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."

Evidence of whether the vaccine reduces transmission remains unclear, though there are positive indications from Israel with the Pfizer jab, as well as similarly favourable preliminary findings on the Oxford/AstraZeneca.

Comment: At best, there's evidence it actually will cause coronavirus, at worst, death.

The University of Oxford said theirs was the first trial in the 6-17 age group. It said other trials had begun but only measuring efficacy in those aged 16 and 17.

Rinn Song, paediatrician and clinician-scientist at the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound negative impact on the education, social development and emotional wellbeing of children and adolescents, beyond illness and rare severe disease presentations.

Comment: The lockdowns are harming children, not the virus nor any related effects.

"It is therefore important to collect data on the safety and the immune response to our coronavirus vaccine in these age groups, so that they could potentially benefit from inclusion in vaccination programmes in the near future."