Politics FDA experts among group opposing US booster shot plan
Why Fauci and the NIH backed Covid-19 vaccine boosters before the FDA and CDC
In January — long before the first jabs of covid-19 vaccine were even available to most Americans — scientists working under Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were already thinking about potential booster shots. © Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images A nurse marks a coronavirus vaccination card with a third "booster" dose of Pfizer, at a vaccine clinic hosted by The Tournament of Roses and the Pasadena Public Health Department, August 19, 2021 at Tournament House in Pasadena, California.
The average person doesn’t need a COVID-19 booster yet, an international group of scientists — including two top U.S. regulators — wrote Monday in a scientific journal.
The experts reviewed studies of the vaccines' performance and concluded the shots are working well despite the extra-contagious delta variant, especially against severe disease.
Questions and answers on Biden's new booster shot plan
After months of debate, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that they plan to begin offering booster shots starting the week of Sept. 20 for all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.The announcement that people are recommended to get booster shots eight months following their second vaccine dose prompts an array of questions, including objections from some experts who doubt that everyone needs them.Others are askingThe announcement that people are recommended to get booster shots eight months following their second vaccine dose prompts an array of questions, including objections from some experts who doubt that everyone needs them.
“Even in populations with fairly high vaccination rates, the unvaccinated are still the major drivers of transmission" at this stage of the pandemic,.
The opinion piece, published in The Lancet, illustrates the intense scientific debate about who needs booster doses and when, a decision the U.S. and other countries are grappling with.
After revelations of political meddling in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, President Joe Biden has promised to “follow the science.” But the review raises the question of whether his administration is moving faster than the experts.
The authors include two leading vaccine reviewers at the Food and Drug Administration, Drs. Phil Krause and Marion Gruber, who recently announced they will be stepping down this fall. Among the other 16 authors are leading vaccine researchers in the U.S., Britain, France, South Africa and India, plus scientists with the World Health Organization, which already has urged a moratorium on boosters until poor countries are better vaccinated.
Why the FDA made the right call on Covid booster shots
Protecting already vaccinated Americans from contracting mild Covid shouldn't be more important than the lives and human rights of people in poorer countries.The idea of ramping up booster shots has come under sharp criticism from scientific authorities around the globe, including the director-general of the World Health Organization and leading journals such as Nature and Science, due to extreme global vaccine inequity and the unclear benefits of providing booster shots on such a wide scale. Hopefully the decision on Friday, though not binding, will cause Biden to rethink his plans.
In the U.S., the White House has begun planning for boosters later this month, if both the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree. Advisers to the FDA will weigh evidence about an extra Pfizer shot Friday at a key public meeting.
Georgetown University's Larry Gostin said the paper “throws gasoline on the fire” in the debate about whether most Americans truly need boosters and whether the White House got ahead of scientists.
“It’s always a fundamental error of process to make a scientific announcement before the public health agencies have acted and that’s exactly what happened here,” said Gostin, a lawyer and public health specialist.
The FDA did not respond to requests for comment Monday morning.
The U.S. already offers an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to people with severely weakened immune systems.
For the general population, the debate is boiling down to whether boosters should be given even though the vaccines are still offering high protection against severe disease — possibly in hopes of blocking milder “breakthrough” infections among the fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccine booster guidance will come down to the wire to meet Biden's goal
As early as Sept. 20, vaccinated Americans could start to get booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Who will be eligible at first is still being decided.That leaves little reaction time for health care system administrators like Dr. Tammy Lundstrom, chief medical officer for Michigan-based Trinity Health, which operates 92 hospitals and 120 continuing care facilities in 22 states.
Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saidshowed that as delta surged, the unvaccinated were 4.5 times more likely than the fully vaccinated to get infected, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die. Still, government scientists are also weighing hints that protection is waning among older adults who were vaccinated early last winter.
The writers of Monday's commentary reported reviewing worldwide studies since delta began surging, mostly of U.S. and European vaccines. The team concluded “none of these studies has provided credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease.”
Because the body builds layers of immunity, gradual drops in antibody levels don't necessarily mean overall effectiveness is dropping "and reductions in vaccine efficacy against mild disease do not necessarily predict reductions in the (typically higher) efficacy against severe disease,” they wrote.
The more the virus spreads, the more opportunity it has to evolve into strains that could escape current vaccines. The Lancet reviewers suggest there could be bigger gains from creating booster doses that better match circulating variants, much like flu vaccine is regularly updated, than from just giving extra doses of the original vaccine.
“There is an opportunity now to study variant-based boosters before there is widespread need for them,” the scientists wrote.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine gets full approval from FDA, opening door to more vaccine mandates .
The US Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people age 16 and older. This is the first coronavirus vaccine approved by the FDA, and is expected to open the door to more vaccine mandates. © Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/Shutterstock Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/Shutterstock (12340890a) Mary Jo Vetorino, a Registered Nurse from Bellefontaine, Ohio loads the vaccine into a syringe, at 3840 Kimberly Parkway.