Top scientists from the FDA and WHO oppose COVID acceleration shots

Top scientists around the world – including experts at the FDA and the World Health Organization – rejected the need for widespread vaccine-boosting shots of coronaviruses on Monday.

In a review published in the top medical journal The Lancet, the scientists argued that accelerating shots are not needed in the general population because vaccines still remain very effective in preventing severe disease and death. They also mentioned the urgent need to administer doses to unvaccinated people worldwide to save lives and prevent the emergence of more dangerous variants.

The review comes as the U.S. approaches the controversial proposed start date of the Biden administration for a reinforcement launch, recommended eight months after an individual’s second shot of the Pfizer or Modern COVID-19 vaccines. The report also comes a week after the White House announced a massive push to demand vaccination among nearly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce, as pockets of unvaccinated individuals continue to lead to high numbers of hospitalizations and deaths nationwide.

The outside panel of FDA experts is holding a highly anticipated meeting this Friday to discuss Pfizer’s request for a booster dose.

The 18 co-authors of the Lancet review include Marion Gruber, the director of the FDA’s vaccine office, and Philip Krause, her deputy at the agency, who both announced they will resign in the fall, reportedly in part because of their opposition to the La acceleration plan of the Biden administration. The review was also co-authored by several experts at the World Health Organization, which called for a global acceleration shotgun moratorium to maximize vaccinations worldwide – especially in developing countries, where vaccination rates remain very low.

The Lancet article reviews the current evidence on the protection offered by existing vaccines. While the vaccines all offer less protection against infection with the Delta variant compared to the previously dominant Alpha, they still offer very good protection against severe disease. And while the ability to prevent infection or even symptomatic illness may diminish over time, protection against severe illness seems so far to hold strong.

Three CDC reports published last week confirmed these findings across most age groups, declining more significantly in people 75 or older. One of the studies reviewed nearly 570,000 U.S. cases of COVID-19 from April to July, showing that unvaccinated people were nearly 5 times more likely to become infected, and more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized or die compared to people who received the vaccine. .

“The current rate therefore does not appear to show a need for acceleration in the general population in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the authors of the Lancet article wrote.

Data from Israel, which has already begun spreading booster shots, showed an increase in protection against infection and severe disease after a third shot of the Pfizer vaccine, which was originally given in two doses. But the Lancet authors noted that the data were collected only for a week after the booster dose was administered, and it is unclear how long that protection will last.

The Lancet authors argued that accelerations may ultimately be needed if immunity decreases over time, but more research was needed to determine when that will be necessary. Currently, they argued, there is a more urgent need to administer existing doses among the unvaccinated. They also suggested that booster doses intended specifically against the major circulating variants of the coronavirus could be more potent and more lasting.

“Even if any gain can ultimately be obtained from acceleration, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated,” the authors wrote. “If vaccines are deployed where they would do best, they could accelerate the end of the pandemic by preventing further development of variants.”

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO Health Crisis Program, condemned accelerating shots in harsh terms last month. “We plan to distribute extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we let other people drown without a single life jacket,” Ryan said. “That’s the reality.”

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