Pfizer announced Wednesday it had begun a clinical trial to test its Covid-19 antiviral medication in children as young at 6.
According to the drugmaker, it plans to enroll around 140 people in the trial. The trial will examine whether Paxlovid can safely treat Covid in children at high risk of becoming seriously ill.
Paxlovid is approved for individuals 12 years and older.
The trial will divide the children into two groups based on their weight. This will determine whether or not they will receive the current authorized dosage.
Each group will be given three tablets twice daily over five days to receive the full Pfizer treatment. This treatment consists of a combination of two drugs: Ritonavir (a common HIV drug) and Nirmatrelvir (an antiviral that Pfizer has developed.
According to the company, enrollment is possible for children younger than 6 years old once scientists have developed the right formulation of the pill.
According to clinicaltrials.gov, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi are the locations of trials.
Pfizer's update is coming as Covid vaccination rates in children in the United States are at an all-time low.
Although children are more likely to get the virus than adults, they still have to be admitted or die. According to data from The American Academy of Pediatrics, children in the United States account for approximately 1 to 4 percent of people hospitalized with Covid and less that 1% of deaths.
Pfizer's adult trial data showed that the treatment was 89 per cent effective in preventing high-risk patients from dying or being admitted to hospital from Covid.
Despite the fact that the trial did not include participants younger than 18, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the pills for certain at-risk children under the age of 12.
To be effective, the pills must be taken within five days of symptom onset.
Dr. David Boulware from the University of Minnesota Medical Center, said that the antiviral is especially important for immunocompromised kids, such as those who have had organ transplants and people with HIV/AIDS. These children are at risk of severe illness from Covid and may not be able to mount an immune response to vaccines.
He said, "There will always be children for which Paxlovid is highly useful and can save their lives."
Although initially the availability of the pills wasn't great, has seen an increase in supply since Pfizer began producing more treatments. The omicron surge has also subsided.