Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listened during a Senate Submission hearing in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Swimming pool | Reuters
Federal health officials are working “as soon as possible” to authorize a third Covid-19 vaccine shot down by Americans with a weakened immune system, White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
It is clear now that such people – including patients with cancer and HIV or those who have had organ transplants – generally do not produce an adequate immune response after receiving two doses of a Covid vaccine, Fauci said.
“Immunocompromised individuals are vulnerable,” Fauci said during a White House briefing. “It’s extremely important for us to move to get those individuals their boosters, and we’re working now and we’ll get it up and running as soon as possible. … It’s a very high priority.”
Immunosuppressed populations represent only about 2.7% of the adult population of the United States. However, they make up about 44% of hospital-discovered cases of Covid – an infection in a fully vaccinated individual, according to recent data from an advisory group Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Studies suggest that a third shot of vaccine could help patients whose immune system does not respond well to a first or second dose.
Four small studies cited by the CDC last month showed that 16% to 80% of people with weakened immune systems did not have detectable antibodies to fight Covid after two strokes. Among immunosuppressed patients who had no detectable antibody response, 33% to 50% developed an antibody response after receiving an additional dose, according to the CDC.
“It is clear now from the observational data that have been made that they do not, in general, provide an adequate response that we think would be adequately protected,” Fauci said Thursday.
Other countries, such as France, are already giving a third blow to people living with cancer or other immune problems. Israel announced last month that it will offer reinforcing blows to people over 60 who say the effectiveness of the blow seems to be diminishing in those people.
Some doctors have pushed for the United States to allow immunosuppressed populations to get an extra dose, and some immunosuppressed Americans have already found additional doses of vaccines alone, say medical experts.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019 during the Trump administration, told CNBC Monday that he believes the reinforcements will be given to the elderly and immunocompromised from September to October.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a board member of Pfizer, Tempus ’genetic testing start-up, healthcare technology company Aetion Inc. and Illumina biotech company. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ’‘ Healthy Sail Panel ’and Royal Caribbean.