The U.S. will begin widely distributing Covid-19 booster kits next month as new data shows that vaccine protection will decrease over time, the top U.S. health officials announced Wednesday.
It is now “very clear” that immunity will begin to decline after the initial two doses, and with the dominance of the delta variant, “we are beginning to see evidence of reduced protection against moderate and moderate disease,” according to statement signed by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, FDA agent commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, the White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci and other American health officials.
“Based on our latest assessment, current protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death could decrease in the coming months, particularly in those who are most at risk or have been vaccinated during the earlier stages. of the vaccination rollout. “
As a result, U.S. agencies are preparing to offer booster shots to all eligible Americans beginning the week of Sept. 20, starting eight months after their second dose of Pfizer or Modern vaccines, they say. the officials. While they say the recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine will likely need boosters, they are waiting for more data in the coming weeks before making a formal recommendation.
“With this data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J reinforcement strikes as well,” officials said.
The plan is subject to a formal recommendation by a CDC vaccine advisory committee and FDA approval, as well as a formality.
The announcement comes ahead of a Covid White House press conference Wednesday, where federal health officials are scheduled to further explain their plan for boosters. President Joe Biden must speak about the U.S. effort after the briefing, the White House told reporters Tuesday.
The decision to recommend booster shots comes as the public becomes increasingly concerned about the delta variant and an increase in advanced cases – infections in fully vaccinated individuals. It marks a change from previous comments made by U.S. health officials, who have said in recent months that fully vaccinated Americans did not need reinforcements at this time.
U.S. officials have changed their message about boosters in recent days as homes continue to grow. Fauci said Thursday that everyone will “probably” need a reinforcement shot at some point. On Friday, federal officials approved the administration of booster shots to Americans with weakened immune systems, which includes patients with cancer and HIV and people who have had organ transplants.
The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr.Francis Collins, who also signed the statement, said Tuesday that new Covid data, including from Israeli health officials, have led U.S. health officials to rethink their position on vaccine reinforcers. Israel released new data Monday showing a reduction in the effectiveness of Pfizer’s Covf vaccine against serious diseases among people 65 years and older who were fully vaccinated in January or February.
The United States is beginning to see similar trends even in the effectiveness of vaccines, Collins said. He said the increase in revolutionary cases may be due to a combination of the rapidly spreading delta variant and the protection of the Covid vaccine decreasing over time.
The effectiveness of Pfizer’s Covf vaccine decreases steadily over time, dropping to about 84% for people vaccinated about four to six months after getting their second dose, according to CEO Albert Bourla. Moderna said her vaccine was 93% effective in the first six months after the second dose, but she expects protection to fail and boosters will be needed.
“Right now, it’s still like our vaccination coverage is working really well,” Collins said. “But we don’t want to wait until it’s like oh, too late.”
The move to recommend boosters will provoke criticism, especially since a large portion of the global population has not yet received even a single dose of a Covid vaccine.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization called on rich nations to stop distributing reinforcements until the end of September to give poorer countries the opportunity to vaccinate their populations with the first. rounds of shots. The demand is part of the plan by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to vaccinate 40% of the world by December.
The United States issued the statement minutes after the WHO condemned rich nations supporting boosters for the general public.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, called the U.S. recovery plan “a slap in the face” to the international health agency.
“There’s a better way to create a win-win,” he said in a telephone interview. “We need to stimulate only our employees and vulnerable people. At the same time, Biden must promise a bold campaign to vaccinate the world, including many increased donations and an increase in vaccine production.”
“So we do good to America and we do good to the world. It is in our national interests to stop the development of even more dangerous variants,” he added.
During a White House briefing Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration believes it can increase the American population by ensuring the rest of the world is vaccinated.
“We think it’s a false choice. We can do both,” Psaki said. “The United States is by far the biggest contributor to the global fight against Covid. We will continue to be the arsenal for vaccines around the world. We also have enough stock and we have so long planned enough stock if we need a reinforcer for eligible populations. “
Once reinforcement shots are approved, nursing home residents, health care providers and the elderly – the first groups to be vaccinated in December and January – are likely to be prioritized to get more shots, Collins said. said Tuesday. He said it was “ideal” that people should stay with the same manufacturer from whom they got their first two doses.
“But if for some reason you don’t have access, well, then you get the other one,” he said. “Again, I would feel more comfortable as a scientist repairing our plans based on real data, and that means sticking to the same type of vaccine you have to start with.”