Growing evidence highlights the importance of Covid-19 boosters – Community News

Growing evidence highlights the importance of Covid-19 boosters

The finding was not surprising to Dr. Leana Wen, emergency medicine physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“The Pfizer data that came out this morning isn’t surprising. Actually, this is what we’ve been anticipating all along, that there’s good news and bad news — the bad news is that there’s some degree of immune escape, that two doses may not work as well as against previous variants, but I actually think that’s really good news that the third dose seems to give that really significant extra stimulant effect,” Wen, a CNN medical analyst, told Ana Cabrera on Wednesday. from CNN.

“So it adds more reason for everyone to get a booster, especially those who qualify,” Wen said. “But I also hope that our federal health officials will soon re-evaluate the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated, especially in light of what we’re learning about Omicron.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster doses for all adults who received their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago and for those who received a Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago. Eligible adults can get a booster from one of three authorized vaccines.
All Vaccinated Adults Should Get Covid-19 Booster Due to Omicron Variant, CDC Says
Vaccine makers have known for months that the immunity vaccines elicited against Covid-19 can decline over time, requiring a booster dose. The boosters seem to restore immunity to where it was initially.
Two separate studies from Israel published Wednesday showed that booster doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine increased the number of infections tenfold and reduced the number of Covid-19 deaths by 90%.

The two studies, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, look at the effects of Israel’s campaign to offer boosters to everyone 12 years and older with the spread of the Delta variant in the summer. While deaths and serious cases were low among fully vaccinated people, booster injections lowered them dramatically more.

There is more evidence that boosters not only restore waning immunity, but also improve protection against emerging coronavirus variants.

The evidence has led some to suggest that the definition of fully vaccinated should move from completing two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to completing three.

What counts as fully vaccinated now?

The primary series of receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine should be considered a three-dose series rather than a two-dose series plus a booster, Uğur Şahin, CEO of German biotechnology company BioNTech, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Especially with the data coming in now for the Omicron variant, it’s very clear that our vaccine — for the Omicron variant — has to be a three-dose vaccine,” Şahin said.

Pfizer and BioNTech are developing a variant-specific vaccine for Omicron and say it will be available in March if needed. But Şahin said that while an Omicron-specific vaccine is being developed, people who now qualify for booster shots shouldn’t wait.

As the benefit of a third dose of vaccine against the coronavirus has become more apparent in the scientific data, some public health experts have asked whether the US definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated should change — while others call it a ” great leap’ to change the definition.

Currently, the CDC considers people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

CNN has contacted the CDC for comment on updating that definition.

“I think moving from the hard science — which is so encouraging, I’m so happy to hear that information from Pfizer — to public policy and redefining what is vaccinated is a big leap. don’t make things more complicated than they are right now,” Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the division of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and liaison to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, told CNN’s Victor Blackwell and Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday.

“Changing the requirements of what is fully vaccinated I think has all kinds of downstream effects for all kinds of institutions in the country,” he said. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”

Omicron coronavirus variant partially evades Pfizer vaccine protection, study shows

But it’s now a question of “when, not if” the definition of fully vaccinated will change to three doses, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Wednesday.

“It’s a technical, almost semantic definition, and it’s the requirement definition when someone says, ‘Are you fully vaccinated?’ to be able to study at a university or college or to work in a workplace,” Fauci told CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

He added that he doesn’t see the definition of “tomorrow or next week” changing.

But in terms of the protection a booster dose provides: “I don’t think anyone would argue that optimal protection will be with a third injection. Whether it’s officially changed in the definition, I think that’s going to be literally on a daily basis.” That’s always on the table,” Fauci said. “It becomes a matter of when, not if.”

Majority of vaccinated adults say they'll get a booster, a KFF poll shows

According to data from the CDC, currently only about a quarter — 25.9% — of fully vaccinated adults in the United States have received a booster dose of coronavirus vaccine. That percentage is an increase from the proportion of vaccinated adults who received a boost a month ago.

The pace of vaccinations is rising rapidly after a dip over the Thanksgiving holiday. According to CDC data, an average of more than 950,000 booster doses per day have been administered in the past week, accounting for more than half of all vaccine doses administered.

But there is still room for improvement in vaccine uptake. Based on CDC guidelines, more than 144 million adults should receive a booster. So far, only about 48 million adults have received one.

Some teens may be getting a Covid-19 vaccine booster soon, but younger kids may not be getting one at all

As for those under the age of 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing Pfizer/BioNTech’s request for emergency approval of Covid-19 boosters for children ages 16 to 18 without convening the Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biologics , said FDA spokeswoman Abby Capobianco. .

“The agency has previously convened the VRBPAC for extensive discussions on the use of boosters for COVID-19 vaccines and has already approved boosters for 18- and 19-year-olds. After reviewing Pfizer’s request, we concluded that there were no raise requests. that would benefit from additional discussion by the committee members,” Capobianco said in an emailed statement.

Pfizer applied for a booster EUA for this age group at the end of November and has already obtained approval for boosters for everyone 18 years and older. It is unclear when a decision will be made regarding this request, but Capobianco further wrote: “While the FDA cannot predict how long the evaluation of the data and information will take, the agency will review the request as soon as possible. . “

As boosters roll out in the United States, in other parts of the world the focus remains on getting the first doses of vaccines in the arms — so much so that the World Health Organization has warned not to put too much emphasis on booster shots.

A global call to vaccinate the unvaccinated

The first rounds of vaccinations against Covid-19 are still important to contain the spread of the virus, said WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan in a news briefing Wednesday.

“I think the message is loud and clear that it is the primary vaccination course that will protect us from serious illness and death. That should be our goal,” Swaminathan said in a media briefing. She added that the WHO has recommended additional vaccine doses for people who are immunocompromised.

But among the general public, “unfortunately, even in countries with adequate or more than adequate supplies, there is still a significant proportion of people who have not been vaccinated — 30%, 40%, 50% complete the vaccination course,” Swaminathan said. .

“So, unfortunately, the boosters probably aren’t the answer to this,” she said. “At this point, the benefits we will gain from reaching those people who have not received a basic vaccination course will be greater than giving additional doses to those who have already completed a basic course.”

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Amanda Sealy, Jamie Gumbrecht, Naomi Thomas and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.

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