What We’re Reading: COVID-19 Vaccine in Adolescents; New AML Drug Approval; Pediatric Respiratory Illness Levels Drop

March 31, 2021
AJMC Staff

Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appears to be 100% effective at preventing adolescent infections; Vyxeos approved for pediatric secondary acute myeloid leukemia (AML); study results show a 62% drop in pediatric respiratory illness over the past year.

Pfizer/BioNTech Release COVID-19 Vaccine Data on Adolescents

At a time when weekly COVID-19 cases in the United States are on the rise again, up 15% alone from 2 weeks ago, Pfizer and BioNTech have released data from a trial investigating their vaccine’s use among adolescents aged 12 to 15 years. These data, which have yet to be peer reviewed, show higher antibody responses vs 16-to-25-year-olds from a previous trial, as well as no infections or serious adverse effects among the 2260 adolescents who participated, reports The New York Times. The placebo group had 18 cases of infection. At present, even with 16% of adults fully vaccinated, experts warn that herd immunity will not be possible without inoculating children.

FDA Approves Vyxeos for Use in Pediatric Patients

Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ Vyxeos (daunorubicin/cytarabine) has been approved by the FDA for use among children 1 year and older with newly diagnosed therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes, the company is reporting. The combination anthracycline topoisomerase/nucleoside metabolic inhibitor was approved based on, and its safety supported by, data from the phase 1/2 AAML1421 and phase 1 CPX-MA-1201 trials. Common adverse events include bleeding events, constipation, irregular heartbeat, and sleep disorders. Other daunorubicin and/or cytarabine-containing products cannot be used in place of Vyxeos.

Illnesses Among Children Down Sharply Over Past Year

A new report in Journal of Hospital Medicine shows that respiratory illnesses are down 62% over the past year, according to data from 44 children’s hospitals included in a study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. In addition, the data show just 1 flu-related death compared with the usual annual toll of 100 to 200 deaths, and experts credit these numbers to social distancing measures and parents not sending their sick children to school, notes Kaiser Health News. Flu-related numbers are also down among adults, and deaths among this age group will be measured in hundreds, vs the usual thousands, this year, according to the CDC.