New Delhi/Washington, July 22: US President Joe Biden said that children under the age of 12 could be eligible to receive a Covid 19 vaccine "soon", predicting that his government could green light the rollout for young Americans in the next few months.
"Soon, I believe," Biden told CNN on Wednesday when he as asked when would children under 12 would be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
"Soon, in the sense that I do not tell any scientists what they should do. I do not interfere. So, they are doing the examinations now, the testing now, and making the decision now," he said, adding that scientists will make a decision "when they are ready" and have "done all the science that needs to be done" to determine the appropriate vaccination for different age groups.
America's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday it was "very likely" that data about Covid-19 vaccines in children under 12 may be available by early winter.
"Very likely when you do the age de-escalation study, so we've gone from 12 to nine, nine to six, six to two and then six months to two years, likely by late fall, early winter, we'll have enough data," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a Senate hearing.
"But that doesn't mean that then it's all of a sudden going to be allowed to happen. That will be a regulatory decision that the FDA will have to make," he said.
Biden also indicated that he expects the Covid-19 vaccines, which currently are approved under emergency use authorization, to get full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration "quickly".
"The expectation, they're not promising me any specific date, but my expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together ... is that sometime, maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, beginning of September, October, they'll get a final approval saying the (US Food and Drug Administration) said, 'No, this is it. It's good'."
Stressing that he doesn't "tell any scientist what they should do," Biden told CNN that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely issue guidance saying "everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing a mask in school" .
Currently, none of the three Covid-19 vaccines used in the US is available to children under the age of 12.
With many schools across the US now just weeks from reopening for the fall semester, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still conducting clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in children under 12.
Data for children ages five to 11 could come sometime in September, and depending on the findings, Pfizer told CNN that it could ask the FDA to authorise emergency use of the vaccine that same month.
Data for the two to five-year-olds could arrive soon after.
For the youngest children, Pfizer said it could potentially get data in October or November, and shortly thereafter ask the FDA to authorise emergency use.
So far, almost 4.09 million children in the US have tested positive for Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic, according to a latest report of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association.