The Swedish government on Thursday declined to recommend giving COVID-19 vaccines to children under 12 years old after determining there would be a little medical benefit in doing so.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden, in a news release, said the medical benefit for an individual child aged 5 to 11 who receives a COVID-19 vaccine is “currently small.”
“Therefore, the authority for the spring term 2022 does not recommend a general vaccination of children under 12 years of age in Sweden,” the release said. “We will continue to follow the issue.”
The agency further said that general COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 and older are “not expected to have a major effect on the spread of” the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in Sweden.
“As before during the pandemic, children are at a significantly lower risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease compared with adults,” the agency said. “In general, the younger the child, the lower the risk.”
Sweden registered more than 40,000 new cases on Jan. 26, one of the highest daily numbers during the pandemic, despite limited testing. On Thursday, 101 patients with COVID required intensive care, well below the more than 400 patients during spring 2021.
“With the knowledge we have today, with a low risk for serious disease for kids, we don’t see any clear benefit with vaccinating them,” Health Agency official Britta Bjorkholm told a news conference Thursday.
Sweden’s government on Wednesday extended restrictions, which included limited opening hours for restaurants and an attendance cap for indoor venues, for two weeks but said it hoped to remove them on Feb. 9.
The recommendation comes as top White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci told a briefing Wednesday that he believes children aged 2 to 5 will receive at least three doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“It turned out that the other dose, namely the other group, from 24 months to four years did not yet reach the level of non-inferiority, so the studies are continued,” said Fauci, adding that “it looks like it will be a three-dose regimen. I don’t think we can predict when we will see an [emergency use authorization] with that because the company is still putting the data before the FDA.”
Despite the proclamation, Fauci admitted that he doesn’t “want to anticipate what the [Food and Drug Administration] would do.”
In the United States, children under the age of 5 are the only cohort of the population that’s not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Currently, Pfizer is carrying on trials to evaluate its vaccines on younger children.
Pfizer has not immediately returned a request for comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.