NIH Director Collins calls Israel data “impressive”

A patient receives a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine during the Oakland County Health Department’s vaccination session at the Southfield Pavilion on August 24, 2021 in Southfield, Michigan.

Emily Elkonin | Getty Images

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, called Israel’s data on COVID-19 vaccinations “impressive,” noting that the vaccines provided a tenfold reduction in infections in people who received the third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

In late July, Israel began introducing boosters to people over the age of 60, giving scientists more time to study their ability to fight Covid and reinforce the diminishing efficacy of the initial dose series. Collins’ comments on Thursday came just a day after the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid booster for high-risk people, including everyone aged 65 and over.

“Without overturning my hand, I’ll say that the data looks really impressive, that boosters do provide significant reductions in infection – for example, a tenfold decrease in just 12 days after this booster vaccine, as well as a reduction in severe illnesses, that is what we are most interested in. worried, ”Collins said during a Covid discussion hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Collins added that Israeli data point to a twelve-fold reduction in the severe form of Covid as more serious cases of the disease begin to occur in the country. On August 25, Pfizer reported that antibodies tripled in third dose recipients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical authorities that offer advice to the agency, will vote Thursday to approve the FDA’s decision on a booster vaccine. On Wednesday, the group began a two-day series of presentations on boosters to give experts and the public a chance to hear more data ahead of the final vote.

Vaccine makers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are weeks away from the CDC and FDA evaluating their boosters, Collins said. While Pfizer boosters are currently only available to recipients of the first two doses, Collins said the NIH is completing a “mixing and matching trial” to determine the effects of starting doses and booster brands from different manufacturers.

“It’s a small test, but enough to see if you increase your antibody levels if you switch to a different booster dose than you started, or maybe you can do even better,” Collins said.

The CDC reports that 2.3 million people have received third doses in the US since August 13 and that nearly 55% of the total population is fully immunized against Covid. But false online rumors about vaccines remain a major obstacle for health officials to overcome, Collins said.

“In the United States, we have 70 million people who, despite compelling evidence – all published publicly, about the safety and efficacy of any of these three vaccines – have yet to roll up their sleeves,” Collins said. … “And I’m afraid they are being attacked by all sorts of misinformation, and some of them are actually deliberate misinformation that is widespread on social media.”

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