Pfizer Inc will enroll participants as young as 12 in its large, late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial to understand how it works in a wider age group.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted permission to the drugmaker and German partner BioNTech SE to enroll the younger participants this month, according to an update on Monday on the U.S. company’s website.

The drugmaker is racing with rivals such as Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca Plc to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus.

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The companies have pledged to ensure diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age and other factors in their vaccine studies.

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Pfizer last month scaled up its trial to about 44,000 participants, from up to 30,000, to enroll people as young as 16 and those with chronic, stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.

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The trial, which is being conducted in four countries including the United States, has enrolled 37,864 participants as of Monday, with 42 per cent overall participants from ages 56 to 85.

— Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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