Three Denver siblings are the first children in Colorado to join the clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine made by Novavax. The company is expanding its final step of the research to include children, ages 12 to 17.
CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh has been participating on the adult side. Recently, she met one of her young counterparts.
“There was a coin toss, and I won,” said 12-year-old Lucas Vannoni.
Lucas is the first kid in Colorado to take part in the Novavax clinical trial. It’s the same as the adult study, but this is for ages 12 to 17.
Lucas, his twin, Emilia, and brother, Lorenzo, all recently got their first dose of either the Novavax vaccine or a placebo.
“We really do need to get kids vaccinated,” said Dr. Myron Levin, professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Levin is helping oversee the pediatric trial on the Anschutz Medical Campus.
Dr. Thomas Campbell is the principal investigator of the study and Chief Clinical Research Officer of UCHealth. Results from a UK study showed the vaccine was 96% effective against the original COVID virus, 86% against the UK variant.
About 2,200 adolescents are being recruited across the U.S. Levin hoped to get 75 Colorado volunteers, but then the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for children 12 to 15.
“Many parents chose or will choose to take advantage of that,” said Levin.
Not the Vannonis.
“They decided to go for it,” said Valentina Vannoni, mother of the trio.
Valentina is a research coordinator at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
“It’s super important for science, and we believe in science,” said Valentina.
“To contribute to, you know, getting COVID over with is worth it,” said Lucas.
It is two shots three weeks apart. Two of every three kids will get vaccine.
“It’s conceivable this vaccine is as good as… it could be better than another vaccine,” said Levin.
He expects Novavax to win approval.
“Giving people more options to choose from, it’s going to probably make more people get vaccinated,” said Valentina.
Compensation could help with recruitment.
“I mean the pay is a plus,” said Lucas, although no one revealed the amount.
All who stay in the study will eventually get vaccine.
The Novavax approach is a tried and true method, made like the HPV and Hep B vaccines.
Novavax uses a harmless, lab-made version of the coronavirus spike protein and adds an immune-boosting chemical.
It doesn’t need to be deep frozen.