Pfizer says trials of its Covid vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 show 100% efficacy and a strong immune response.
Initial results from trials in 2,260 adolescents in the US also suggest the vaccine is safe with no unusual side-effects.
The drug company says it will submit its data to the US and European authorities for emergency use in 12- to 15-year-olds.
There are currently no plans for children to be vaccinated in the UK.
Children’s risk of becoming very ill or even dying with Covid-19 is tiny, and throughout the pandemic they have very rarely needed hospital treatment.
Adults – particularly those over 50 and people with serious underlying health conditions – have a much higher risk, which is why they have been vaccinated as a priority in the UK.
Pfizer is one of a number of drug companies testing their Covid vaccines on children.
AstraZeneca announced trials of its vaccine in UK children aged six to 17 some time ago, and the first of 300 volunteers were due to be jabbed last month. The vaccine is currently only authorised for people aged 18 and over in the UK.
Alongside trials in teenagers, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is authorised for use in those aged over 16, is also being tested in children under 12, with the aim of involving babies from just six months old.
The company started dosing the first healthy children in this trial last week.
‘Next school year’
In the Pfizer trial in 12- to 15-year-olds, 18 cases of Covid-19 were seen in the group given a dummy vaccine and none in group given the Covid vaccine which protects against it.
The figures are preliminary and full data has not been released, peer-reviewed or published in a journal.
Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, said: “We share the urgency to expand the authorisation of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.”
“We plan to submit these data to FDA [US Federal Drugs Administration] as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks, and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.”
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said the initial results in adolescents suggested children “are particularly well protected by vaccination”.
He added: “It is very important to enable them to get back to everyday school life and to meet friends and family while protecting them and their loved ones.”
Moderna, the US company behind another Covid vaccine ordered by the UK, has said it will also test its jab on 12- to 17-year-olds.