Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine is to be tested on children in new clinical trial - here’s why

As the Covid vaccine rollout continues across the UK, a return to normal feels closer than it did in the dark days of January.

A road map to gradually ease the coronavirus restrictions will be revealed on 22 February - with the reopening of schools said to be a top priority.

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This has led to many discussions over infections in children, what effect the virus has on people under the age of 18 and the role of kids in transmission.

Let's take a look at what's being done and if children will get the Covid vaccine.

Will children get the Covid vaccine?

A clinical trial is set to begin to test the Oxford / AstraZeneca Covid jab's efficacy on children as young as six up to the age of 17.

Around 300 volunteers will take part in the trial which will see up to 240 children have the vaccine and the others receive a control meningitis jab.

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The trial will determine if the jab can produce a strong immune response in kids.

Chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial and professor of paediatric infection and immunity, Andrew Pollard, said the trial would further the understanding of Covid in children.

He added that the research was "important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination".

When might children get the Covid vaccine?

Under the government's first phase priority groups listings, there are no plans to vaccinate children with the Oxford or any other approved Covid jab.

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The Oxford jab has only been authorised for use in people aged 18 and over but there is the chance a Covid jab for kids could be licensed in 2021.

Speaking to ITV News, England's deputy chief medical officer professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: "It is perfectly possible that we will have some licensed children's vaccines for Covid-19 by the end of the year."

Professor Van Tam added that several trials were under way to develop vaccines that are safe and effective in children.

What are symptoms of Covid in kids?

Symptoms of coronavirus in children are the same as adults.

Main symptoms include a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

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If your child has symptoms then it's important to get a test to check if they have coronavirus and stay at home until you get the result of the test.

Do children need to receive a Covid vaccine?

There is evidence Covid can cause death and severe illness in children but this is rare, said the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

It said: "In children, the evidence is now clear that Covid-19 is associated with a considerably lower burden of morbidity and mortality compared to that seen in the elderly.

"There is also some evidence that children may be less likely to acquire the infection. The role of children in transmission, once they have acquired the infection, is unclear, although there is no clear evidence that they are any more infectious than adults."

Will the Pfizer or Moderna jabs be used on children?

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The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine is one of three approved jabs in the UK, alongside ones developed by Pfizer / BioNtech and Moderna.

The Pfizer jab is authorised to be used in anyone aged 16 and over. Supplies of Moderna aren't expected until the spring before its rollout.