CDC Vaccine Advisors Less Enthusiastic Than White House About Universal COVID Boosters
Focus should remain on primary vaccines and boosters for populations not protected from severe outcomes with initial vaccination, CDC advisors say, potentially contradicting Biden administration plans for widespread allowance of third COVID-19 shots. A booster authorization by the White House’s planned 20 September timeline would also compromise Pfizer’s ability to finish a placebo-controlled study evaluating the impact of its booster on clinical outcomes.
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ACIP will get a chance to further restrict and tailor the US booster plan for COVID vaccinations. Among other things, CDC's advisors may have to define what constitutes being at high risk of severe COVID-19 post-primary vaccination, occupations at high risk of COVID exposure, and whether people who didn’t receive Pfizer’s primary vaccine series could get the company’s mRNA booster shot.
As questions of political interference continue to swirl around the issue of whether additional vaccine shots will be needed, the Biden administration is facing communication challenges commonly seen with his predecessor, Donald Trump.
VRBPAC could help restore some confidence in any booster decision after White House moved ahead of FDA and CDC, but without hard outcomes data and no proven immune correlate of protection, support for Pfizer’s sBLA at the 17 September advisory committee meeting seems far from guaranteed.