Setback for Biden: advisory panel doesnt think boosters needed for all Americans

Not all Americans, but only over 65s, people with vulnerable health and healthcare workers should receive an additional corona vaccination. That is the conclusion of an advisory panel from the US drug watchdog FDA, which voted last night on the approval of a third Pfizer dose for the over 16s.

Officially, the outcome is just an opinion, but the FDA usually takes over the panel‘s advice. It would be a disappointment for US President Biden. He announced in August to offer a booster shot to all fully vaccinated Americans eight months after their last dose. That should have started the day after tomorrow.

But the FDA committee feels that there is not enough evidence that it is already necessary. Most studies show that the protection of two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, the two most commonly used vaccines in the US, will remain high against hospitalizations and death, even after a few months and also against the delta variant.

Solid Discussion

The discussion about the booster strategy was going strong. Last week, an international research team published an overview study in The Lancet on the need for additional puncture. Among them were also two researchers associated with the FDA.

Prior to publication, they had already announced they were leaving the FDA, reportedly because they disagree with Biden’s booster plan. The survey study concluded that protection of vaccines against serious illness is still very high. Boosters are therefore not necessary for the entire population.

The CDC, the American equivalent of the RIVM, then came up with a study showing that the protection of Pfizer from hospitalizations would decrease to 77 percent after four months. Side note is that the patients in that study were 68 years old on average. In the elderly, the immune system can work less well in general, so it is the but the question of what the results say about the need for an extra jab in everyone.

Dates from Israel

More or less at the same time, an Israeli study was also published that showed the effects of a third corona prok. In Israel, all over 12 people can get an extra jab. The risk of hospitalization would be up to twenty times lower than in people who had been vaccinated twice after a third shot. But according to several experts, that study says little about the long term. Israel has only been giving out third pricks since August.

Due to Israeli data, several Biden advisors would also have called for booster shots. The number of corona cases and hospitalizations in the US is rising sharply. The Biden government is therefore under pressure to intervene. But the FDA panel says that the Israeli and US situation are not quite similar. In Israel, most of the population was vaccinated in a very short period of time, already at the beginning of this year.

Also check out this video about the Israeli booster campaign:

Israeli and US researchers also use a different definition of serious illness, which may make hospitalizing policy different, FDA researchers said. That could explain why in Israel, at some point, half of all corona patients were fully vaccinated in the hospital, while in the US only 2 percent of hospital patients are fully vaccinated.

According to many American experts, this shows that it is much more important to prick unvaccinated people in America and worldwide than to hand out third doses to the entire population. In doing so, the FDA panel partly follows the vision of many international scientists.

Health Board

The World Health Organization has asked Western countries to wait for the time being with boosters so that more can be pricked in countries with low vaccination rates. The more people build immunity to corona, the less likely there are even more contagious variants of the virus to emerge, or variants that are not susceptible to the vaccines at all.

In the Netherlands, the Health Council has advised not to hand out boosters yet. Only people with weakened immune systems who have not built up or inadequate protection after two pricks should be eligible for a third jab for the time being, says the Health Council. That should not be seen as a booster, but as part of the primary series of pricks. It is estimated that 200,000 to 400,000 Dutch people.

However, there must be regular preparations to distribute boosters if the action of the vaccines against serious illness decreases over time, according to the Health Council.