Growing evidence points to the importance of Covid-19 boosters – .

Growing evidence points to the importance of Covid-19 boosters – .

The discovery came as no surprise to Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“The Pfizer data released this morning is not surprising. In fact, this is what we expected from the start, that there is good news and bad news – the bad news being that there is some degree of immune evasion, that two doses may not work. as well as against the previous variants. But I actually think it’s really good news that the third dose seems to give that really important extra stimulating effect, ”Wen, a CNN medical analyst, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on Wednesday.

“So that adds one more reason for everyone to get a callback, definitely who’s eligible,” Wen said. “But I also hope that our federal health officials quickly reassess the definition of what it means to be fully immunized, especially in light of what we are learning about Omicron. “

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster doses for all adults who received their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago and those who received a Johnson & Johnson injection. at least two months ago. Eligible adults may receive a booster of any of the three permitted vaccines.

Vaccine makers have known for months that Covid-19 immune vaccines can wane over time, requiring a booster dose. The boosters appear to restore immunity to where it was originally.

Two separate studies from Israel published on Wednesday showed that booster doses of Pfizer / BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine increased infections tenfold and reduced Covid-19 deaths by 90%.

The two studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examine the effects of the Israeli campaign to offer boosters to anyone 12 years and older with the spread of the Delta variant in the summer. While deaths and severe cases were low among those fully vaccinated, booster shots reduced them significantly.

This is further evidence that boosters not only restore waning immunity, but improve protection against emerging variants of the coronavirus.

Evidence has led some to suggest that the definition of being fully immunized should be changed from two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine to three.

What counts as fully immunized now?

The first round of Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccination should be viewed as a three-dose series rather than a two-dose series plus a booster, said Uğur Şahin, CEO of German biotech company BioNTech, in a statement. press conference Wednesday.

“Particularly with the data coming up for the Omicron variant, it’s very clear that our vaccine – for the Omicron variant – is expected to be a three-dose vaccine,” Ahin said.

Pfizer and BioNTech are working on the development of a variant-specific vaccine for Omicron and say it will be available by March, if needed. But Ahin said that while a vaccine specific to Omicron is in development, those eligible for booster shots shouldn’t wait.

As the benefits of a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine have become clearer in the scientific data, some public health experts have questioned whether the US definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated should change – while others call it a “big leap” to change the definition.

Currently, the CDC considers people to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

CNN has reached out to the CDC for comment on updating this definition.

“I think going from hard science – which is so encouraging, I’m so happy to hear this information from Pfizer – to public policy and redefining what gets vaccinated is a big step forward. Let’s not complicate things are right now, ”said Dr. William Schaffner, director of the preventive medicine department at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and liaison with the CDC’s advisory committee on practices on Wednesday. vaccination program, to Victor Blackwell and Alisyn Camerota of CNN.

“Changing the requirements of what fully vaccinated means, I think, has all kinds of downstream effects for all kinds of institutions in the country,” he said. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

But now it is “when, not if” the definition of fully immunized will change to include three doses, said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Wednesday.

“It’s a technical, almost semantic definition, and it’s the definition of the requirements if someone says, ‘Are you fully vaccinated? “Be able to take courses at a university or college or be able to work at a workplace,” Fauci told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

He added that he does not see the definition change “tomorrow or next week”.

But in terms of the protection offered by a booster dose, “I don’t think anyone would argue that the optimal protection will come with a third injection. Whether or not it’s officially changed in the definition, I think it’s going to be considered literally on a daily basis. It’s still on the table, ”Fauci said. “It will be a question of when, not if. “

Majority of vaccinated adults say they will receive a booster, KFF survey finds

Currently, only about a quarter – 25.9% – of fully vaccinated adults in the United States have received a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to CDC data. This percentage is a slight increase from the share of vaccinated adults who received a booster a month ago.

The pace of vaccinations is increasing rapidly after a drop during the Thanksgiving holiday. An average of more than 950,000 booster doses have been reported given each day over the past week, representing more than half of all vaccine doses given, according to CDC data.

But there is still room for improvement in immunization. According to CDC guidelines, more than 144 million adults are expected to receive a booster. So far, only around 48 million adults have received one.

Some teens may be getting a Covid-19 vaccine booster soon, but younger people may not be getting any at all

Regarding those under 18, the United States Food and Drug Administration is reviewing Pfizer / BioNTech’s emergency clearance request for Covid-19 boosters for children aged 16 to 18 without summoning their advisory committee on vaccines and related biologics, according to FDA spokesperson Abby Capobianco. .

“The agency previously convened VRBPAC for in-depth discussions regarding the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters and has already authorized boosters for 18 and 19 year olds. After reviewing Pfizer’s request, we concluded that it does not raise issues that would benefit from further discussion by committee members, ”Capobianco said in an emailed statement.

Pfizer filed an EUA recall request for this age group at the end of November and has already received recall authorization for anyone 18 years of age and over. It is not known when a decision will be made regarding this request, but Capobianco went on to write, “While the FDA cannot predict how long its assessment of the data and information will take, the agency will review the request as quickly as possible. possible. . “

While the recalls are rolled out in the United States, in other parts of the world, the focus remains on getting the first doses of vaccines in guns – so much so that the World Health Organization has put caution against putting too much emphasis on reminders.

A global call to immunize the unvaccinated

The first rounds of Covid-19 vaccinations are still important to fight the spread of the virus, WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday at a press briefing.

“I think the message is loud and clear, that it is the primary vaccination that will protect against serious illness and death. This has to be our goal, ”Swaminathan said during a press briefing. She added that the WHO has recommended additional doses of the vaccine for people who are immunocompromised.

But among the general public, “unfortunately, even in countries that have adequate or more than sufficient supplies, there is still a substantial proportion of people who have not been vaccinated – 30%, 40%, 50% complete the course. vaccination cycle, ”Swaminathan said.

“So boosters, unfortunately, probably aren’t the solution to that,” she said. “At this point, the benefits we will get from reaching people who have not received primary vaccines will be greater than giving extra doses to those who have already completed a primary course. “

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Amanda Sealy, Jamie Gumbrecht, Naomi Thomas and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.


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