Some babies whose mothers received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy have been shown to develop virus-fighting antibodies by the time they reach six months in age, according to a research letter published Monday by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
According to Reuters, the small study has not yet been peer-reviewed and only tracked a few dozen subjects. However, the findings offer hope that some children will develop tools to fight COVID-19 even though they're not eligible to be vaccinated themselves.
According to the research letter, the study tracked a handful of women who got either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during their pregnancy. Those mothers all got their shots between 20 to 32 weeks gestation — when, according to Reuters, the transfer of maternal antibodies to the fetus via the placenta is at its highest.
Researchers followed up with 28 of those babies six months after birth and found that 16 — or 57% — had developed detectable antibodies that can fight COVID-19.
The study also tracked dozens of women who contracted COVID-19 during their pregnancies. Researchers followed up with 12 of those babies six months after their birth and found that only one (8%) had developed detectable antibodies.
"Although the antibody titer known to be protective against COVID-19 in infants is unknown, these findings provide further incentive for pregnant individuals to pursue COVID-19 vaccination," the research letter read.
As Reuters points out that the body has other tools to fight against COVID-19. But the study leaders noted that more research could prove valuable because infants and young children are currently ineligible to get vaccinated and that COVID-19 cases in that age group "account(s) for a disproportionate burden of pediatric SARS-CoV-2–associated morbidity."
Pfizer has submitted an application to the FDA for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years old. While Pfizer submitted the EUA for a two-shot regimen, the company has signaled that children between 2 and 4 will likely need three shots.