UNITED STATES: Experts remain deeply divided over the benefits of COVID-19 booster shots mere days ahead of the Biden administration’s self-imposed deadline to begin the third jab. Health officials are scrambling to prepare for the rollout despite a void of critical details.
The vast majority of vaccinated adults in the United States are bustling for a booster dose, fudging their vaccination records to get one.
So – despite the stir whether the additional shots are even necessary amid a global shortage – the White House is under immense political pressure to follow through with starting boosters next week.
“Weeks ago, the administration decided that the public needs cake and deserves cake, and so shall have cake,” John P Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told the New York Times. “Now, the public expects cake and would be very annoyed if its cake was taken away at this point.”
Joe Biden has described boosters as if they are a no-brainer and plans to get his own once they are widely available, according to Reuters.
“As a simple rule – rule: eight months after your second shot, get a booster shot,” Biden said. “It will make you safer and for longer. And it will help us end the pandemic faster.”
Last month, the U.S.’s top health officials announced a plan to officially greenlight boosters starting the week of 20 September. Back then, they said Americans would qualify for a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine eight months after their second. But Moderna didn’t provide adequate data on boosters, leaving only the Pfizer vaccine as a possibility in time for this month’s deadline.
The U.S. FDA has released a review of Pfizer’s application seeking approval for booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, 16 September. The FDA, from its review, doesn’t seem entirely convinced by the data, refusing to take a stance just yet. A final recommendation is expected to come from an external advisory by the end of this week.
The FDA has authorised COVID-19 booster shots of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for immunocompromised and elderly people, however, the FDA has expressed time and again that considering the safety and efficacy data available, they don’t see a need for a third booster dose for everyone just yet.