SWITZERLAND – Switzerland has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for youngsters aged between 12 and 17 years old, weeks after EU regulators authorized the drug for the same age group.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said it reviewed an application for the Moderna vaccine, Spikevax, based on an ongoing study with 3,732 children.

“In the age group studied, and with the dosage remaining the same as for adults, the vaccine produced a similar immune response compared to young adults aged 18 to 25,” it said in a statement.

Swissmedic added that the most frequent side effects were also similar, and that clinical trials found the efficacy against the coronavirus disease to be about 93%.

Moderna’s Spikevax is the second vaccine to been given the green light for teenagers by the Swiss authorities. In June it approved the use of a product by Pfizer/BioNTech for the 12-15-year-old age group.

The Federal Office of Public Health and a government advisory committee both recommend jabs for adolescents in this age group, notably individuals with a health risk or living with particularly vulnerable people.

yesterday, Swiss officials recorded 3,144 new cases of Covid-19 infections over the past three days. That’s up 55% on the previous weekend. The number of hospital admissions due to Covid-19 has increased by 38 since last Friday.

So far, just over 49% of the population has been fully vaccinated and about 6% have had a first jab. The target rate outlined by Interior Minister Alain Berset is 80%.

However, take-up has slowed in recent weeks. Nearly 2.5 million doses were administered in June but fewer than 1.4 million in July.

The virus has killed 10,354 people in Switzerland and 723,907 positive tests have been registered.

Moderna’s COVID-19 jab is used in 48 countries, behind AstraZeneca (161), Pfizer-BioNTech (88) and Sinopharm (49), according to an AFP count.

Moderna, whose vaccine has an emergency use authorization, is yet to receive authorization from FDA to give its vaccine to adolescents aged 12-17 despite having applied in June.

Last week, the pharmaceutical giant published data indicating that its COVID-19 vaccine shows 93% efficacy up to six months after the second dose. Further to this, the company said it was going after full government approval.

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