Image copyright Pfizer Image caption COVID-19 is a newly designed and licensed vaccine designed to protect infants from pneumococcal disease
A new vaccine is being approved in Europe for young children.
COVID-19 is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine made by Pfizer.
It protects against pneumococcal disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in the world.
The new vaccine is expected to be available in countries across Europe and the USA later this year.
In the UK, the application has been approved for use in children aged 5 to 11.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by one of a number of bacterium. Most are harmless but pneumococcus cause disease in most infants, children and adults.
In 2017, there were more than 167,000 deaths around the world due to pneumococcal disease, most were preventable with vaccine and effective treatment.
In the UK, pneumococcal disease causes 2,000 deaths each year and 3% of the population has chronic exposure to the disease.
How does it work?
You or your child’s body could react to the drug.
Controversially, pneumococcal vaccines can stimulate an immune response and result in side effects in people who have other inflammatory conditions.
Pneumococcal vaccines work in the same way and encourage the immune system to recognise and attack the bacterium.
Dr Neil Laraway, of the British Medical Association, told the BBC that co-exposure of vaccinating vaccinated children and those with some other inflammatory conditions is “not controversial, but not good for the health of any child”.
It raises the possibility that there could be delayed reactions.
But Dr Laraway said no children were going to get ill from a vaccine if it has been properly tested.
What could the drug have been used for in the past?
The pneumococcal vaccine works in the same way, except it has been restricted in terms of co-exposure to other inflammatory conditions.
The vaccine has been around for over 50 years but, in the past, it was only offered in maternal prisons.
It has been applied only to the immunised baby and child.
Although COVID-19 will be available in Europe, USA and potentially other countries, it will not yet be licensed for use in adults under five years of age.
What is the effect?
The vaccine was given a favourable assessment by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“The effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 was found to be comparable to approved pneumococcal conjugate vaccines,” says a report by the EMA.
“The vaccine presented no detrimental effect in terms of development or adverse effects on young children.
“No short-term adverse reactions were reported in children older than five years.”
It also found that there was “no significant increase in adverse reactions in any subgroup of children with a severe form of pneumococcal disease, or a co-existing illness”.
The new vaccine will be licensed from 20 May.