According to the New York Times, two administration officials confirmed the Biden administration will be pushing for Americans to have follow-up shots as early as mid-September.
“Officials are planning to announce the administration’s decision as early as this week,” reported the Times. “Their goal is to let Americans know now that they will need additional protection against the Delta variant that is causing surging caseloads across the nation.”
As was the case with the first vaccine, the first booster shots will be for the elderly and frontline coronavirus workers. The proposed policy stems from data out of Israel that suggests “the Pfizer-BioNTech’s protection against severe disease has fallen significantly for elderly people who were vaccinated in January or February.”
“Some administration officials have viewed Israel as a kind of template for the United States because it started vaccinating its population sooner,” noted the Times. “Israel has almost exclusively used the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and it has a nationalized health care system that allows it to systematically track patients.”
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Last week, officials in the Biden administration began expressing concern about the vaccine’s efficacy against the Delta variant when a new preprint study suggested that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be less effective over time. Axios profiled the study’s findings:
Overall, it found that the Moderna vaccine was 86% effective against infection over the study period, and Pfizer’s was 76%. Moderna’s vaccine was 92% effective against hospitalization and Pfizer’s was 85%.
But the vaccines’ effectiveness against infection dropped sharply in July, when the Delta variant’s prevalence in Minnesota had risen to over 70%.
Moderna was 76% effective against infection, and Pfizer was only 42% effective.
The study found similar results in other states. For example, in Florida, the risk of infection in July for people fully vaccinated with Moderna was about 60% lower than for people fully vaccinated with Pfizer.
The study did not determine if the vaccines declined in effectiveness over time, or were simply less effective against the Delta variant. The study has also not yet been peer-reviewed and cannot be taken as gospel.
Speaking at an Axios virtual event, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that Americans will need to get a coronavirus booster 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.
Follow Paul Bois on Twitter @Paulbois39.