Pfizer‘s (NYSE: PFE) The COVID-19 vaccine is now available for teenagers. Modern‘s 09.30 NASDAQ: MRNA it may not be too far back. The company recently announced positive results from a clinical trial of its vaccine in children between the ages of 12 and 18. In that Motley Fool Live video recorded on May 26, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speats and Brian Eagley discuss how Moderna’s results compare to Pfizer’s.
Keith Speats: More news from Modern and this is probably the bigger news. This week alone, biotechnology released data on its clinical trial in teens. Brian, I know you have a personal interest in this particular news. What did this study show and how does it compare to Pfizer data and from a personal point of view, what is your opinion?
Brian Aureley: Longtime viewers will know that I have two children who are actually participating in this clinical trial. This is a clinical trial for adolescents aged 1
They also looked at efficacy, although this is a small clinical study. I had 100% efficiency based on the strict definition of COVID-19, but these were really small numbers. There were four on the placebo, four received COVID-19 in the placebo group and zero in the vaccine group. If you look at the definition of CDC, it is 93 percent.
I think the difference is that CDC requires only one symptom before you start testing, where a stricter definition then, as used in adult clinical trials, usually requires two different symptoms before you worry about getting a test. This is the difference there between 100% and 93%.
But even 93 percent are pretty solid levels, and teens won’t get super sick. Even if you test positive and they obviously have only one symptom, people who fall into this category have had the vaccine. But 10 are positive, but they obviously have one symptom. This was probably a mild case of the disease.
When we compare it to Pfizer’s data, it’s not quite a comparison between apples and apples, because Pfizer had included 16-18-year-olds in the adult study, so they did their experiment in 12-15-year-olds, and then antibodies to 12-15 year olds were taller than 16-25 year olds. They actually gave the levels there. At the time, they also had 100 percent efficacy with 18 cases in the placebo group and zero in the vaccine group. Slightly more data on the Pfizer vaccine than on Moderna in younger adolescents.
Depth: What is the next step then for Moderna?
Eagles: Well, they will go on and get the FDA approval and the approvals of other regulatory agencies for the 12-18 year old. Then we hope that at some point they will blind us to know if my children have received the vaccine or a placebo, and then the people who have received a placebo will go through the whole course again and get the vaccine.
It didn’t sound like they were going to do anything Novavax did, which just switches them all but doesn’t tell them. I think it sounded like they were just going to give the placebo to the people with the vaccine, and the people with the vaccine could just deal with the state.
Depth: This is true. I didn’t even think about it, Brian, that your kids still don’t know if they got the vaccine or the placebo.
Depth: We hope you find out very soon.
Eagles: This is on my list of things I need to do to call them, [laughs] because a trip to Hawaii is coming up in July. So, if we can get them to get the vaccine, if they haven’t already, it would be ideal.
Depth: We have talked about this in the past. This teen market is a very important market for Moderna and Pfizer. As a parent of teens, what is your approach? Do you think vaccination levels will be high in teenagers or do you think it will be ineffective?
Eagles: Yes, I think this is a strange age group because they don’t have to see their doctor unless they play sports or something, but they don’t have to go for an annual checkup as young children. I think when my kids hit teenagers, they come in because they have sports stuff, but otherwise they don’t come in for an annual checkup. I think this is the time when they will most likely be vaccinated. We will have to wait and see how often teenagers get vaccinated.
The other thing is that it is light. You are prone to mild cases in teenagers, so is it really worth the side effects that are real compared to the disease, or potentially the disease is something like a washout, depending on the profile of side effects.
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