Effectiveness of the BNT162b2 vaccine in preventing morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11 years: a systematic review and meta-analysis

04 Dec 2023


A rapid systematic review, based on Cochrane rapid review methodology was conducted to assess the effectiveness of two 10μg doses of BNT162b2 vaccine in preventing morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11 years. We searched the Cochrane Library COVID-19 study register, the COVID-NMA living review database and the McMaster University Living Evidence Synthesis for pre-appraised trials and observational studies up to 7 December 2022. Records were screened independently in duplicate. Where appraisal was not available, these were done in duplicate. Meta-analysis was conducted using RevMan 5.3 presenting risk ratios/odds ratios/inverse vaccine efficacy with 95% confidence intervals (CI). GRADE for assessing the overall certainty of the evidence was done in Gradepro.

We screened 403 records and assessed 52 full-text articles for eligibility. One randomised controlled trial (RCT) and 24 observational studies were included. The RCT reported that BNT162b2 was likely safe and 91% efficacious, RR 0.09 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.32) against incident COVID-19 infection (moderate certainty evidence). In absolute terms, this is 19 fewer cases per 1,000 vaccines delivered (ranging from 15 to 21 fewer cases). Observational studies reported vaccine effectiveness (VE) against incident COVID-19 infection of 65% (OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.47) and 76% against hospitalisation (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.42) (moderate certainty evidence). The absolute effect is 167 fewer cases per 1,000 vaccines given (ranging from 130 fewer to 196 fewer cases) and 4 fewer hospitalisations per 10,000 children (from 3 fewer to 5 fewer hospitalisations). Adverse events following vaccination with BNT162b2 were mild or moderate and transient.

The evidence demonstrated a reduction in incident COVID-19 cases and small absolute reduction in hospitalisation if a two-dose BNT162b2 vaccine regimen is offered to children aged 5 to 11 years, compared to placebo. PROSPERO registration: CRD42021286710.

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