Pfizer and BioNTech said Tuesday they have submitted COVID-19 vaccine data on children ages 5 to 11 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for initial review, but are not yet seeking emergency use authorization.
A formal submission to request EUA for the vaccine is expected to follow in the coming weeks, the companies said in a statement.
Submissions to the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities are also planned, they said.
This is the first submission of data to the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older and has an EUA for people ages 12 to 15.
Last week, Pfizer released details of a Phase 2/3 trial that showed its COVID-19 vaccine was safe and generated a "robust" antibody response in children ages 5 to 11. The trial included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11 and used a two-dose regimen of the vaccine administered 21 days apart. This trial used a 10-microgram dose — smaller than the 30-microgram dose that has been used for those 12 and older.
Participants' immune responses were measured by looking at neutralizing antibody levels in their blood and comparing those levels to a control group of 16- to 25-year-olds who were given a two-dose regimen with the larger 30-microgram dose. Pfizer said the levels compared well with older people who received the larger dose, demonstrating a "strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose."
FDA officials have said that once vaccine data was submitted, the agency could authorize a vaccine for younger children in a matter of weeks — not months — but it would depend on the timing and quality of the data provided.
The FDA is expected to convene its vaccine advisers to make a recommendation on the vaccine before authorization. If the FDA OKs it, a panel of CDC vaccine advisers will meet to consider whether to recommend its use.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC last week there's a "reasonably good chance" the shot will be available by the end of October.