A COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 has yet to be authorized, and the Biden administration may now wait until as late as June to do so, Politico reports Thursday, per individuals familiar with the matter.
Health officials had originally hoped to OK the shots at the beginning of the year. But now, regulators are inclined to wait until early summer, worried that authorizing one of the two possible vaccines on a "faster timetable" than the other would confuse the general public and perhaps undermine confidence in the shots' effectiveness, Politico writes, per sources.
Pfizer is likely to hold off on submitting its three-shot regimen for authorization until June, considering the FDA initially "rebuffed" its two-shot regimen for young children. Moderna, however, "plans to formally request authorization for its vaccine for children under six by the end of the month, meaning regulators could conceivably clear it for use by mid-May," Politico writes.
With those two timetables in mind, the FDA is reportedly worried about "green-lighting Moderna's vaccine, only to potentially find out several weeks later that Pfizer's vaccine performs far better," reports Politico. Such a development could in turn spark backlash from parents who rushed out to get one shot rather than wait for the other, regulators argue.
That scenario doesn't, however, change the potentially worrisome optics of the FDA stalling on a vaccine it expects to authorize.
Plans could still change, sources have cautioned — the pandemic landscape might morph, for one thing, or the increasing pressure on the Biden administration to roll out a regimen could come to a head.
But as it stands, Politico says, the "delays have vexed officials who see the vaccine as key to convincing Americans that the administration has successfully reined in the pandemic."