Scientists blasted the Biden administration for pushing Chinese coronavirus booster shots, saying the data is not “compelling enough to recommend third shots to most of the American population right now,” CNBC reported on Thursday.
U.S. health officials on Wednesday recommended Chinese coronavirus booster shots for fully vaccinated individuals eight months after completing their vaccine series. Health leaders said they plan to be prepared to offer booster shots to eligible Americans beginning the week of September 20.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other officials cited three new CDC studies showing that vaccine efficacy against mild or moderate cases of the Chinese coronavirus “may wane over time.” Ultimately, officials used the data to support their reasoning for recommending a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“But scientists and other health experts said the data they cited wasn’t compelling, characterizing the administration’s push for boosters as premature,” according to the report.
CNBC cited a New York study released by the CDC that examined 9,675 infections among fully vaccinated adults, compared with 38,505 infections among unvaccinated adults between May 3 through July 25. Only 1,271 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized and accounted for 15 percent of all coronavirus hospitalizations.
Dr. Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University said:
People are still highly protected against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. This is what vaccines are supposed to do. If we start seeing significant upticks of more severe disease and hospitalizations in vaccinated people, that would be a signal to consider boosters.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, told CNBC people who are 65 and above or living in a long-term care facility “may also benefit from a booster shot.”
“Do we all need a third dose of a vaccine right now? No, we don’t. Do some people need a third dose of a vaccine right now? Yes. Will we need a third dose of a vaccine in the near future? Maybe,” Bogoch said.
Mayo Clinic epidemiologist Dr. Priya Sampathkumar came to the same conclusion, noting that the general public might one day need a booster, just not right now.
“There isn’t enough data to support the third booster for all at this point,” she said.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first authorized booster shots on August 12 for certain immunocompromised individuals, and a day later, the CDC voted to recommend third doses. On August 18, the Biden Administration said it plans to roll out booster shots for all Americans, beginning with nursing homes, frontline healthcare workers, and the elderly. But first, the FDA must authorize the use of additional shots for the general population. On Monday, Pfizer-BioNTech submitted phase-one data of their booster shot to the FDA.
Health officials are recommending a third does of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. Officials said they are still waiting to view data on if booster shots are needed for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, though they anticipate it will be the case.
The CDC estimated that at least one million Americans have already received an unauthorized third booster shot. Just over 51 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC’s August 20 data.