Researchers will use 300 volunteers to assess whether the jab produces a strong immune response in children aged between six and 17. The vaccine is one of three to have been approved for use in adults in the UK, along with those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection and immunity, and chief investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial, said: “While most children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus and are unlikely to become unwell with the infection, it is important to establish the safety and immune response to the vaccine in children and young people as some children may benefit from vaccination.
“These new trials will extend our understanding of control of SARS-CoV2 to younger age groups.”
The first vaccinations of the trial will take place this month.
Up to 240 children will receive the vaccine and the others will have a control meningitis jab.
Earlier this week, England’s deputy chief medical officer said “several” trials were under way to develop coronavirus jabs for children.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told ITV News: “It is perfectly possible that we will have some licensed children’s vaccines for Covid-19 by the end of the year.”
The University of Oxford said their trial was the first in the 6-17 age group.
It said other trials had begun but only measuring efficacy in those aged 16 and 17.
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Rinn Song, paediatrician and clinician-scientist at the Oxford Vaccine Group, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound negative impact on the education, social development and emotional well-being of children and adolescents, beyond illness and rare severe disease presentations.
“It is therefore important to collect data on the safety and the immune response to our coronavirus vaccine in these age groups, so that they could potentially benefit from inclusion in vaccination programs in the near future.”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has said there is evidence the virus can cause death and severe illness in children but this is rare.
It said: “In children, the evidence is now clear that Covid-19 is associated with a considerably lower burden of morbidity and mortality compared to that seen in the elderly.
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“There is also some evidence that children may be less likely to acquire the infection.
“The role of children in transmission, once they have acquired the infection, is unclear, although there is no clear evidence that they are any more infectious than adults.”
It comes as the UK is pushing ahead with its vaccine rollout which has seen more than 14 million people receive their first dose and 500,000 their second.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hoped a combination of vaccines and new treatments will mean coronavirus could be a “treatable disease” by the end of the year.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I hope that Covid-19 will become a treatable disease by the end of the year.
“If Covid-19 ends up like flu, so we live our normal lives and we mitigate through vaccines and treatments, then we can get on with everything again.”
It comes as the reproduction number, or R value, for coronavirus is now estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9 across the UK for the first time since July, indicating the lockdown is working.
The UK reported a further 15,144 cases and 758 deaths on Friday.