Dr Vivek Murthy, appearing on CNN State of the Union, said, “We believe recipients of J&J will likely need a booster, but we are awaiting data from the company regarding a second dose of J&J so that the FDA can fully assess the safety and effectiveness of this. dose. “
His comments followed a statement Wednesday from the Department of Health and Human Services, which announced that the third doses of the vaccine would begin to be offered in the United States next month.
“Based on our latest assessment, current protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death may wane in the coming months, especially for those who are at higher risk or who were vaccinated in the early stages. the deployment of vaccination, ”said the press release.
“For this reason, we conclude that a booster will be necessary to maximize vaccine-induced protection and extend its durability.
“We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall, subject to the FDA making an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and efficacy of a third dose of Pfizer mRNA vaccines. and Moderna and that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) publish booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.
“We are ready to offer booster shots to all Americans starting the week of September 20 and starting eight months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, people who were fully vaccinated at the start of the vaccination rollout, including many healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other elderly people, will likely be eligible for a booster.
He added: “We also anticipate that booster shots will likely be needed for people who have received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the United States until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the coming weeks. With this data in hand, we’ll keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J recalls as well. “
The J&J vaccine – and others like AstraZeneca – are known as viral vector vaccines, injecting a different virus that is genetically engineered to elicit the same antibody response.
Dr Murthy told CNN on Sunday that “mixed studies” were underway to see how taking one type of shot and then another would affect people.
“As soon as that data is available, we can present it to the FDA, and they can also review it for safety,” Murthy said.
“And so as soon as these studies are completed, we will have more to recommend to J&J recipients about when to be recalled and what injection they should receive,” he said.
The whole concept of mixing doses – or people trying to double vaccinations in an attempt to build resistance to Covid – has cropped up more frequently in conversations and debates.
According to an article published on Friday in Popular Science, single vector virus systems “appear to be particularly effective in awakening T cells, which are white blood cells that play a variety of roles, including destroying infected cells and coordinating the immune response.” Meanwhile, mRNA vaccines are particularly good at inducing the production of antibodies that target the virus. “
“If you mix the two, could you get the best of the two vaccines and get a really good antibody response coupled with a very strong T cell response? Said Kristen E. Lyke, director of the Malaria Vaccine and Challenge Unit at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “And then, how would that affect the effectiveness of the vaccine?” “
She said: “It’s a proven approach that we do with vaccine testing all the time, but it has yet to hit prime time, where there is a licensed vaccine combination that intentionally has an effect. mixed platform. “
However, the question of whether or not the approach should reach “prime time” requires further study.
In a statement released earlier this month, the World Health Organization warned against mixing and maximizing vaccines when initially administering two doses – but said it was still not not sure to use different injections for third doses, or ‘boosters’.
“WHO recommends that the same vaccine be used for both doses,” according to a two-dose primary schedule, the statement said. “If different Covid-19 vaccine products are inadvertently administered in the two doses, no additional dose of either vaccine is recommended. Currently, mix and match schedules are an off-label use of the respective vaccines and, as such, should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks, as in the situations vaccine supply interrupted. “
Dr Murthy’s comments on Sunday – and the government statement earlier in the week – keep repeating the same things: Further study is needed because Covid is an unfolding mystery, and no one has all the answers.
“Our top priority remains to stay ahead of the virus and protect the American people from Covid-19 with safe, effective and sustainable vaccines, especially in the context of an ever-changing virus and epidemiological landscape” , indicates the press release from the health department.
“We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis and we are prepared to modify this plan if new data requires it.
“We also want to emphasize the continuing urgency to vaccinate the unvaccinated in the United States and around the world. Almost all cases of serious illness, hospitalization and death continue to occur among those who have not yet been vaccinated. ”