WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- An FDA panel recommends Covid-19 booster shots to people age 65 and older and other high-risk Americans.
- The panel rejected a proposal to offer a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to the general public.
- The Covid-19 booster shots from Pfizer and BioNTech are the only ones approved by the agency.
A federal advisory panel on Friday unanimously rejected a plan to distribute Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans, but it recommended the third shots for those who are 65 or older or vulnerable Americans.
The decision is a heavy blow to the Biden administration’s attempt to reinforce protection to all Americans amid the continuing spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The votes were made by a panel of outside experts who give advice to the US Food and Drug Administration.
The panel first rejected, by a vote of 16-2, boosters for the general public, citing a lack of safety data on third doses, and also raised doubts about the value of mass boosters, rather than ones targeted to specific groups.
Then, in a sweeping 18-0 vote, it recommended the booster shot for people who are most at risk from the virus.
During the debate on Friday, members of the panel questioned the significance of distributing boosters to nearly everyone.
“I don’t think a booster dose is going to significantly contribute to controlling the pandemic,” said Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University. “And I think it’s important that the main message we transmit is that we’ve got to get everyone two doses.”
Last month, the administration proposed a plan to offer booster shots of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to nearly all Americans eight months after they receive their second dose.
The panel’s decision was just the first step as the FDA itself has to make a decision on boosters in the succeeding days, though it usually follows the committee’s recommendations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has to approve the boosters. A CDC advisory panel is expected to make the decision on Wednesday. The CDC has said it is considering boosters for older people, nursing home residents and front-line health care workers, rather than all adults.
For Moderna or J&J booster shots, there will be separate FDA and CDC meetings for approvals.
Source: AP News