From September, third doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available to all residents of the United States, the heads of leading US health agencies and the COVID-19 team advising President Joe Biden announced Wednesday. This is related to concerns about the weakening of the effectiveness of the preparations over time. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has announced that there is no need for coronavirus booster for now. The WHO would like the richest countries to send vaccines to the most needy countries and regions first.
“The available data clearly shows that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infections begins to decline over time after the first vaccination doses, and coupled with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are beginning to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate COVID-19,” the statement signed by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Janet Woodcock and chief medical adviser to the president, Anthony Fauci.
Experts point out that in the coming months, the protection provided by vaccines may weaken enough to not be sufficient to protect against the serious effects of the disease. The third doses are expected to be available to all Americans on September 20. Experts recommend that an additional dose be taken eight months after the second.
Already last week, the FDA and CDC recommended an additional dose of vaccines for people with reduced immunity. President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Fauci, also admitted that a similar recommendation to the wider population is only a matter of time. The decision so far only applies to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but a similar recommendation for Johnson & Johnson is also expected in the future.
Booster dose – controversy
The discussion on the so-called The booster dose is controversial, mainly due to global inequalities in access to vaccines and the limited number of doses. This was indicated, among others, by The World Health Organization (WHO), appealing to Washington to refrain from making a decision on the matter.
Back in July, the FDA and CDC assured that Americans “at this point” did not need an additional dose of the vaccine. However, according to the Washington Post, the assessment of officials and experts was changed by the arrival of the wave of infections with the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which caused a huge wave of hospitalizations, overwhelming medical facilities in part of the country. In light of these concerns, more than a million Americans have taken a third dose of the preparation at their own request, without waiting for an official change in guidelines.
WHO: no third dose needed
Meanwhile, at an online conference in Geneva on Wednesday, Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, announced that there is no need for a COVID-19 booster for the time being. She reiterated that the most vulnerable people around the world should be fully vaccinated first, before rich nations start boosting themselves.
Asked about the need for a booster dose to increase protection against the coronavirus, the WHO representative replied: – According to the current data, booster doses are not needed.
Bruce Aylward, a WHO adviser, referring to the announcement of the launch of booster doses in high-income countries, told reporters that “there is enough vaccines in the world, but they are not targeting the right places in the right order.” – Two doses should target the most vulnerable people in the world, before booster doses are introduced for those already vaccinated. We are very, very far from that – he emphasized.
In turn, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove expressed the opinion that the circulation of the Delta variant in areas with low vaccination rates causes the transmission of COVID-19 around the world. ‘Delta is really hovering in low vaccination areas and in a context of very limited and inconsistent use of public health and social measures,’ she stressed.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / ETIENNE LAURENT