Covid-19 coronavirus vaccines for children will not be rolled out in the UK in the immediate future, according to reports.
This morning, Daily Telegraph says it understands that Ministers will be advised not to roll out the jabs to children until more data on the risks is available.
It reports that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are "expected to advise against the vaccination of under 15s in the immediate future".
Members voiced "serious ethical concerns about vaccinating children, given they rarely suffer serious illness from Covid-19", says The Telegraph's front page story.
"Nobody is going to greenlight the mass vaccination of children at this stage," a 'Whitehall source' reportedly told The Telegraph.
The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was approved for use in children aged 12 to 15 in the UK earlier this month.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the UK has “enough supply” to offer the vaccine to children aged 12 and over if recommended to do so by the JCVI.
And he also signalled it would be his “first duty” to see children in the UK vaccinated rather than donate doses to developing countries.
He told reporters: “My first role, my first duty as Health Secretary for the UK is to make sure that the UK is protected and safe.
“And while thankfully, children are very rarely badly affected by Covid themselves, they can still pass on the disease – and so that is my first duty.”
And teaching unions have also called for a rollout, to suppress the virus and keep schools open.
But the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group has previously said it is “morally wrong” to offer Covid-19 jabs to children in wealthy countries when high-risk groups in poorer nations remain unvaccinated.
And, earlier this week, a new study found young children have relative protection from coronavirus because their bodies produce a strong immune response to it
The University of Bristol and Bristol Royal Hospital for Children conducted research which found that infants produce relatively high levels of antibodies and immune cells which protect against the virus, compared to adults.
Researchers say the findings could help explain why younger children appear to be protected from the severe effects of Covid-19 at a time of their development when they could be more vulnerable.
The study’s authors sought to research why children have only been mildly affected by the virus during the pandemic, especially as younger infants, in particular, are known to be vulnerable to other respiratory viruses such as the flu.
The research team looked at the immune responses in four infants under three months old with confirmed Covid at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 alongside their parents, and other adult patients who had recovered from the virus.
Dr Anu Goenka, clinical lecturer in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at the University of Bristol, said the findings could help design vaccines which mimic the protection in children.
He said: “By conducting a detailed study on young infants who are relatively protected from severe Covid-19, we have shown what protective immunity looks like, in terms of the make-up of specific antibodies and immune cells directed against SARS-CoV-2.
“This is very useful information for the design of future Covid-19 vaccines that could seek to induce and mimic the signature of this protective immunity.”
The research team now wants to confirm its findings in a larger group of infants, and compare infant versus adult immune response during and at several timepoints after their infection.