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US health leaders greenlight COVID-19 booster shots for “all Americans”

In light of “very clear” evidence that protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time, the US will start offering boosters shots from September

Top health leaders and medical experts from across the US Department of Health and Human Services have announced that all Americans will be eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines from 20 September.

A joint statement on the need for booster shots was issued by Center for Disease Control director, Rochelle Walensky, Food and Drug Administration acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, US surgeon general Vivek Murthy, director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, and chief medical advisor to President Biden, Anthony Fauci.

“The COVID-19 vaccines authorised in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalisation, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” said the group.

However, the available data makes it “very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination”, they said, adding that, with the dominance of the delta variant, “we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease”.

The latest assessment concluded that “the current protection against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout”.

Subject to an “independent evaluation and determination” of booster shot data by the FDA and recommendations being issued by the CDC, booster shots will be available from 20 September.

Shots will be given eight months after the second dose, which means those who were vaccinated first – including many healthcare professionals, nursing home residents and older people – will be eligible for booster shots first.

The group of health leaders said that their top priority remained “staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective and long-lasting vaccines”, and once again they encouraged urgency for those who are unvaccinated to get the shots.

At present, only Pfizer/BioNTech’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax will be used, but booster-shot data from Johnson & Johnson about its vaccine is expected in the next few weeks.

In response to the US announcement, officials at the World Health Organization repeated their calls for a fairer distribution of the world’s vaccine supply.

WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said: “There is enough vaccine around the world, but it is not going to the right places in the right order.” This follows WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s statement earlier this month that the wealthiest countries had received more than 80% of the world’s vaccine supply even though they made up less than half of the global population.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

19th August 2021

From: Research, Regulatory, Healthcare

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