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Moderna starts COVID-19 vaccine candidate testing on children, as U.S. cases and deaths tick up

Moderna Inc. provided a dose of optimism on Tuesday in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the company said it has started testing a vaccine on young children, just as the U.S. recorded a slight uptick in cases and deaths.

Moderna
MRNA,
+7.82%

said the first pediatric participant in its Phase 2/3 study, called KidCOVE, of its vaccine candidate for children aged six months to less than 12 years has been dosed. The company said the study was being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

The company said it plans to enroll about 6,750 pediatric participants in the KidCOVE study, which will evaluate safety, tolerability, reactogenicity and effectiveness of two doses given 28 days apart.

Currently, the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, as well as those of Pfizer Inc.
PFE,
+0.76%

and BioNTech SE
BNTX,
-0.07%

and Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
+0.27%
,
are authorized for use in adults.

The Moderna news comes amid continued concerns over the safety of the AstraZeneca PLC
AZN,
+2.65%

vaccine, with Sweden joining on Tuesday a growing list of countries in Europe that have suspended use of the vaccine, after several cases of blood clots. That vaccine is not authorized for use in the U.S.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), reiterated on Tuesday the European Union (EU) health authority’s message that there is “no indication” that the AstraZeneca vaccine has caused blood clots.

“We are still firmly convinced that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing COVID-19, with its associated risk of hospitalization and death, outweigh the risk of these side effects,” Cooke said at a press briefing on Tuesday, as MarketWatch’s Lina Saigol reported.

Separately, AstraZeneca disclosed Tuesday that it will supply the U.S. government with an additional 500,000 doses of its experimental, long-acting antibody-based COVID-19 combination treatment, for protection of those who are not able to be vaccinated, as Saigol reported. In total, the company will supply the U.S. with 700,000 doses of the treatment in 2021, for a total of $726 million.

Of the vaccines currently in use in the U.S., the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 135,847,835 vaccine doses have been delivered and 109,081,860 doses have been administered.

Moderna leads in doses delivered, with 67,294,900, compared with 64,832,235 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 3,720,700 J&J vaccines. But Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine leads in doses administered with 54,643,581. compared with 52,883,263 doses of Moderna’s vaccine and 1,428,465 doses of J&J’s vaccine.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of people who have received at least one dose of a vaccine was 71,054,445, or 21.4% of the total population, while 38,335,432 people, or 11.5% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In comparison, the EU country with the highest percentage of its population fully vaccinated was Malta at 8.2%, followed by Denmark at 4.5% and Poland at 4.2%, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the number of new COVID-19 cases increased to 57,081 on Monday from 38,034 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, while the number of deaths rose to at least 751 from 572. See past Coronavirus Update columns.

Latest tallies

The global tally for confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 climbed to 120,357,703 on Tuesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, while the death toll rose to 2,663,188.

The U.S. led the world by a wide margin with 29,497,420 cases, representing 24.5% of the global tally. The U.S. death toll also led the world, as the total of 535,698 deaths made up 20.1% of the global toll.

Earlier Tuesday, Brazil had the second highest death toll at 279,286 and was in second place by cases at 11,519,609. India was third worldwide in cases with 11,409,831, and was fourth in deaths at 158,856.

Mexico had the third highest death toll at 194,944 and 13th highest case tally at 2,167,729. The U.K. was fifth globally with 4,276,840 cases, while the death toll of 125,817 was the fifth highest globally and the highest in Europe.

China, where the virus was first discovered late last year, has had 101,408 confirmed cases and 4,839 deaths, according to its official numbers.

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