Chilean health authorities have approved the emergency use of the Sinovac Biotech (CoronaVac) coronavirus vaccine on children aged six years or older, it was announced Monday.
Five experts from the national Institute of Public Health of Chile favored the use of the drug on patiens, as the country's vaccination plan becomes one of the most sucessful worldwide. A study published in The Lancet in June said that Sinovac's drug was safe and effective in children over three years of age.
Two other experts voted only to approve its use on children from the age of 12, while one expert voted against any approval, saying there was not enough data available yet.
Before Monday's decision, only Pfizer's drug had been cleared for use in people aged between 12 and 17.
We project that during the month of September we will begin vaccinating children under 12 years old, Health Undersecretary Paula Daza said.
In Chile, only 2% of those vaccinated with Sinovac were infected and there have been no deaths, according to official data.
Chile has already been using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in people over 12 years of age and has also begun to administer booster vaccines to the elderly and those with underlying diseases.
This country has administered about 29.4 million vaccines, enough to fully vaccinate 71.9% of its population, according Bloomberg's vaccine tracker, which places Chile among the top 15 vaccinating countries worldwide.
The number of active cases in the country has also fallen to 3,235 from a high of about 79,000 in June.
Sinovac, which has been shown to be less effective in preventing infection than the more expensive mRNA vaccines, accounts for about two-thirds of the vaccines used in Chile.
By protecting our children, we also protect our adults. The data already shows that infections in children are increasing. It is very necessary to expand to this age group, IPS Director Heriberto García said.
Children are transmitters of the virus. At the beginning of the pandemic it was thought that they were not, but today there is enough data to confirm it, he added.
The ISP has just approved in emergency the use of the Sinovac vaccine for those over six years of age, said Health Minister Enrique Paris at a press conference, during which he delivered the updated balance of the pandemic.
This is great news for school-age children and those children who were not considered in previous vaccination plans, Paris added.
Children under 12 will be vaccinated in schools, Daza also explained.
According to the latest data from the Chilean government, the Sinovac vaccine is 58.49% effective in preventing symptomatic infections, 86% in preventing hospitalization, 89.6% in avoiding admission to ICUs and 86.3% in preventing death from COVID-19 by day 14 after receiving the second dose.
The country has also administered more than one million third doses of AstraZeneca to those over 55 years of age who completed their vaccination with Coronavac.