Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that Americans are likely to require a booster vaccination against the coronavirus but stated he is unsure about the timing.
“I don’t anticipate that the durability of the vaccine protection is going to be infinite — it’s just not. So, I imagine we will need, at some time, a booster. What we’re figuring out right now is what that interval is going to be,” Fauci testified during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
“I believe we will need a booster. I’m not exactly sure when,” he added.
Last week, Fauci first judged that Americans will need a booster vaccine shot with a firmer timeline: within a year.
“I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so, after getting the primary [shot], because the durability of protection against coronaviruses is generally not lifelong,” Fauci said during an event organized by Axios and sponsored by PhRMA, a trade organization representing the pharmaceutical industry.
Both Moderna and Pfizer executives recently predicted that Americans who were among the first to get vaccinated may need a booster by the fall.
“The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.
Federal health officials’ new, more relaxed recommendations on masks have all but eclipsed another major change in guidance from the government: Fully vaccinated Americans can largely skip getting tested for the coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that most people who have received the full course of shots and have no COVID-19 symptoms don’t need to be screened for the virus, even if exposed to someone infected.
The change represents a new phase in the epidemic after nearly a year in which testing was the primary weapon against the virus. Vaccines are now central to the response and have driven down hospitalizations and deaths dramatically.
Experts say the CDC guidance reflects a new reality in which nearly half of Americans have received at least one shot and close to 40% are fully vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.