Saturday, November 27

Pfizer’s ability to manufacture pediatric vaccines to meet demand will be challenging – Bloomfield

Questions are being raised about when the government will confirm pediatric vaccine supplies with a Pfizer request that must be submitted at any time.

Director General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield

Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield says the government is in talks with Pfizer about the availability of the pediatric vaccine.
Photo: Rob dixon

Last week, the US health regulator authorized the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children ages five to 11, the first Covid-19 vaccine for young children in the United States.

Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said a request from Pfizer to Medsafe was expected in the next two weeks.

“Our teams are already compiling published research, anything they can get their hands on, but they cannot submit a provisional approval or make a recommendation on it until they have had a formal request from Pfizer.”

National Covid-19 Party response spokesperson Chris Bishop said that with approval imminent, details of the actual supply should be a sure thing by now.

“It is very important that we place an order for the supply of vaccines for children aged five to 11 years and frankly, it is outrageous that we have not done so yet.

“Chris Hipkins told me last week in Parliament that he understood that our contract with Pfizer allows us to order them, so we should do it as soon as possible, and we should try to make sure that we can extend the vaccine to five to children 11 years before of Christmas “.

However, University of Auckland vaccinologist and associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris wasn’t so sure that a massive rollout on this side of Christmas was necessary, or feasible.

“I think it would be very nice to have the pediatric vaccine available. I think there are probably some groups that you might want to prioritize, but maybe we can be a little less urgent about bringing it to those age groups.

“There are a lot of discussions, I think, that have to happen first.”

He didn’t think a massive vaccine launch was likely before the end of the year.

“I don’t see a situation where we have it available anyway and I don’t think we really have the mechanisms to implement it widely at the moment.

“So I think we have a little time and I suspect there will be a lot more conversations in the new year.”

Dr. Bloomfield said that while authorities were “in the room” when it came to supply talks, timing could be a problem.

“The challenge will be Pfizer’s ability to manufacture them to meet demand, not just here but, of course, globally.

“It looks like they’ve made enough for America so far, but we won’t know until they put the app up. [in] and we have ongoing discussions with them about the time of availability here, but trust me, we are absolutely in the room with [them] have those discussions. “

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern added that in the past it was not clear that the vaccine for children ages five to 11 was a different combination than that used for the eligible population.

“Some of the original data that was published did not necessarily make it clear that new doses would need to be manufactured. There was some discussion as to whether or not it was simply a pediatric dose of the original vaccine.

“We will have more clarity on some of the differences and the differential between those vaccines once Medsafe receives that data.

Vaccination data from the Ministry of Health showed that for the current outbreak, 709 cases, or 20 percent, were children 12 years or younger who could not be vaccinated.

Of that age group, 1.7 percent, or 12 cases, have been hospitalized.

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