Johnson & Johnson expands COVID vaccine trial to include adolescents

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Johnson & Johnson is expanding its coronavirus vaccine trials to include adolescents as young as 12 years old, the company said Friday.

The phase 2a trial began in September and was initially designed to study single-dose and two-dose regimens of the vaccine in healthy adults aged 18 to 55 years, as well as adults 65 and older. The study is now including children ages 12 to 17.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on adolescents, not just with the complications of the disease, but with their education, mental health, and wellbeing,” Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement. “It is vital that we develop vaccines for everyone, everywhere, to help combat the spread of the virus with the goal to return to everyday life.”

The vaccine will initially be tested in a small number of adolescents ages 16 and 17. Following the review of initial data, the company said the study will be expanded to a larger group of younger adolescents in a “stepwise approach,” meaning progressively younger groups.

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This trial is currently enrolling participants in Spain and the United Kingdom; enrollment will commence shortly in the United States, the Netherlands and Canada, with Brazil and Argentina to follow.

Johnson & Johnson said it is also in discussions with health authorities to initiate studies in pregnant women and children “in the near future.”

The single-shot vaccine is now authorized in the U.S. for adults aged 18 and older.

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