Pfizer to discuss vaccine booster with US officials today

Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer is likely to meet top US health officials today to discuss and request federal approval for a booster dose as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser conceded that “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that booster shots will be needed.

The scheduled meeting with the Food and Drug Administration and other officials come as its partner BioNTech announced plans to seek US and European regulatory approval for a third dose.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci didn’t rule out the possibility but said it was too soon for the government to recommend another shot.

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA did the right thing last week by pushing back against Pfizer’s assertion with their statement that they did not view booster shots as necessary “at this time.”

Fauci said clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.

“Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean we stop there. … There are studies ongoing as we speak about looking at the feasibility.”

He said it was quite possible in the coming months “as data evolves” that the government may urge a booster based on such factors as age and underlying medical conditions.

Currently only about 48 per cent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

Some parts of the country have far lower immunization rates, and in those places the delta variant is surging.

Last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, said that’s leading to “two truths” – highly immunized swaths of America are getting back to normal while hospitalizations are rising in other places.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., agreed on Sunday that there is a vaccine resistance in Southern and rural states like his because “you have that more conservative approach, skepticism about government.”

Describing his efforts to boost vaccinations in his state, which is seeing rising infections, Hutchinson said “no one wants an agent knocking on a door,” but “we do want those that do not have access otherwise to make sure they know about it.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., blasted opposition to vaccination efforts from some GOP lawmakers as “absolute insanity.”

He said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California and others in the party need to speak out against “these absolute clown politicians playing on your vaccine fears for their own selfish gain.”

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