FDA panel advises COVID-19 boosters for some
The U.S. Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee hosted public hearings on Friday ahead of a vote on COVID-19 booster shots. Pfizer applied for permission to distribute third doses six months after a second dose on the grounds that recipients’ immunity wanes over time. After a long debate, the panel voted 16-2 against the boosters for people age 16 and older. But in another vote later in the afternoon, it approved them for people 65 and older or anyone with a high risk of serious infection. The vote is nonbinding, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration typically follows the panel’s recommendations.
Who is distributing boosters? Before FDA staff scientists reviewed immunity data, President Joe Biden and top health advisers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, announced they would start distributing booster doses by Sept. 20. It’s unclear how those plans will change now. The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on boosters through the end of the year as middle- and low-income countries still have not received enough vaccines to administer first doses to everyone who wants one. Israel is already giving additional doses, and the United Kingdom is scheduled to start next week.
Dig deeper: Listen to Dr. Charles Horton discuss natural immunity to COVID-19 on The World and Everything In It podcast.
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