The Case for Boosters

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discusses the Biden administration's imminent booster recommendation yesterday. Washington, DC. Image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki discusses the Biden administration's imminent booster recommendation yesterday. Washington, DC. Image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty

Worrisome data on breakthrough cases among the fully vaccinated in the US persuaded the Biden administration to embrace a COVID-19 booster strategy that will start as early as mid-September, according to Politico.
 
New, soon-to-be-released US CDC data that documented diminishing vaccine effectiveness among diverse age groups were presented to the White House COVID-19 taskforce on Sunday. 

“This is what moved the needle,” a senior administration official told Politico.

Wait for it: The FDA will first have to okay the third Pfizer and Moderna shots, and the CDC will need to recommend boosters 8 months after full vaccination.

Waning effectiveness: NIH Director Francis Collins also noted that emerging Israeli data “unsurprisingly” shows that the vaccine’s effectiveness gradually wanes over time, according to the Hill. Israelis immunized in January are having more breakthrough cases; most are less severe but a trend toward hospitalization is emerging, Collins said.

  • A recent preprint study not peer-reviewed showed that by June and July, Israelis vaccinated in January had 2.2X the risk for a breakthrough infection as those vaccinated in April, Science reports.

Breakthrough data: A New York Times review of preliminary data from 7 states found that 20% of new cases were among vaccinated people, though experts warn against diluting the message that vaccines save lives.

Counterpoint: In a Q&A yesterday with DW, Madhu Pai said boosters for wealthy countries are “absolutely” the wrong thing to do.

Meanwhile: A crisis among states with low vaccination rates appears to be emerging in the South:

  • Texas requests five mortuary trailers from FEMA, bracing for more covid-19 deaths – The Washington Post
  • ‘Heartbreaking’: Mississippi gets 2nd field hospital in days – AP
  • Alabama has ‘negative’ ICU beds available – WFSA
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