Australia considered for Moderna vaccine trials

9 August 2021

Written by: Hanne Grant

Trials for children as young as six months old could begin in Australia subject to regulatory approval.

American pharmaceutical company Moderna is considering Australia for vaccine trials in young children, according to their recent quarterly financial report. The trial would enlist 6000 healthy children from age six months to 12 years, and enrol in the US and up to two other countries.

Moderna has already begun testing its COVID-19 vaccine on this age bracket earlier this year in the US and Canada, as part of their Phase 2/3 “KidCOVE” mRNA-1273 study. Including Australia in further trials has been welcomed by some, including former deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth.

“Australia is a world-leader in all medical, scientific trials and I’m sure it would be possible to do that sort of trial here,” he told Channel Nine.

While involving Australia in the trial has been mentioned as a possibility, there are still many regulatory hoops to jump through before jabs will be given to Australian children. The trial would have to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and have informed consent by all participants.

“I’m aware of reports that Moderna is looking at what would be part of a global trial in to use of the vaccine on children younger than 12,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC.

“Ultimately, we would of course hope to see vaccines available to everyone, including young children, but they have to go through the usual safety checks and trials.”

The Australian government secured 25 million Moderna vaccine doses earlier this year to add to its vaccine portfolio, as hesitancy surrounding AstraZeneca spread due to confusing messaging. Unlike AstraZeneca, Moderna uses the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer jab. It is also easier to store than Pfizer, at -20 degrees celsius as opposed to -75 degrees for Pfizer.

According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Australian government is also in talks with Moderna about developing vaccine manufacturing facilities onshore in Australia, resulting in a long-term supply of vaccines to cater to future and ongoing demand. The Moderna vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94.1% against symptomatic covid. It will also require two shots at 28 days apart, and is rumoured to be available as early as next month.

IMAGE: Moderna vaccine bottle by Ian Hutchinson is available HERE and used under a creative commons licence. The image has not been modified.