U.S. Omicron cases may peak in late January, Fauci said


A Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is ready for administration at a vaccination clinic on September 22 in Los Angeles. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

The Pfizer / BioNTech MRNA vaccine is 92% effective in preventing Covid-19 in adolescents ages 12 to 17, according to data published Thursday in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The researchers looked at 243 teens without previous positive Covid-19 tests in Arizona between July 25 and December 4. The teens or their parents took nasal swabs and sent them for weekly PCR testing. Twenty-one teens tested positive during the study period, and 18 of them reported symptoms. The results are consistent with clinical trials and other studies, the researchers report.

The study took place during a period when Delta was the dominant circulating variant of coronavirus. Early results suggest that the latest variant, Omicron, may be less sensitive to vaccines. A booster dose increases the level of protection, but boosters have not been approved for children and teens in the United States.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine for people as young as 16 years old and it is available under an emergency use permit for ages 5 to 15 years.

Other research published in MMWR on Thursday showed that reports of serious side effects were rare in children aged 5 to 11 who received the vaccine.

The study looked at reports from two safety monitoring systems, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and v-safe, from November 3 to December 19. During this period, approximately 8.7 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine were given to children 5-11.

VAERS received 4,249 adverse reactions and more than 97% were not serious. Hundreds of serious events were reported, most commonly fever, vomiting, and elevated levels of troponin, a protein found in the heart muscle. There were 12 reports of seizures and 15 reports of myocarditis, of which 11 were verified.

More about the study: V-safe enrolled 42,504 vaccinated children aged 5-11. Following the first dose of the vaccine, 54.8% reported local reactions and 34.7% reported systemic reactions; after the second dose, 57.5% reported local reactions and 40.9% reported systemic reactions. The most commonly reported reactions were injection site pain, fatigue and headache.

The researchers noted that their results are consistent with clinical trials and that both VAERS and v-safe rely on reports that may be biased or underreported. “Parents and guardians of children aged 5 to 11 years should be informed that local and systemic reactions are expected after vaccination,” they wrote. “Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent Covid-19 infection.”

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