Children on playground

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has released a statement from the authors of the recent publication, “BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccination in children alters cytokine responses to heterologous pathogens and Toll-like receptor agonists”.

“It has been brought to our attention that our recently published study is being misinterpreted and misused to claim that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous. Our research does not provide any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are harmful to the immune system of children or adults. In particular, it is incorrect to suggest that our study results show that COVID-19 vaccines ‘suppress the immune system’.

“In blood taken from children one and six months after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, in laboratory experiments, we observed changes in cytokine production by immune cells in response to challenge with various pathogens. These cytokine responses are only one facet of the body’s combined immune response and we do not know how long they last. We did not investigate the clinical consequence of these changes, which could just as easily be beneficial (for example, by reducing harmful inflammation) as undesirable. We have found similar changes in the immune response after BCG vaccination in infants, in whom BCG vaccination is associated with generalised protection against infectious diseases and eczema in high-risk settings.

“Any suggestion that our exploratory study implies that COVID-19 vaccines cause a harmful suppression of children’s immune system is a naïve and misguided oversimplification of our findings, and ignores other studies that do not support this concept.”

Professor Nigel Curtis
Senior Principal Research Fellow, Infectious Diseases Group Leader, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Professor of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, The University of Melbourne
Head of Infectious Diseases, The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne

Dr Nicole Messina
Senior Research Officer, Infectious Diseases Team Leader, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Dr Andrés Noé
Research Officer, Murdoch Children's Research Institute