COVID-19 boosters for the general public facing challenges

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The White House is aiming to roll out COVID-19 booster shots for the general public later this month, but there’s still work to do before they can be made available.

Third doses are already available for people with compromised immune systems, such as organ transplant patients.

The FDA will be the deciding agency when it comes to who can get the COVID-19 boosters next and when. They plan to meet about this Sept. 17 just three days before the White House’s Sept. 20 booster goal.

While President Joe Biden suggested boosters could be needed as soon as five months after a person’s second dose, his own COVID-19 task force is sticking with the eight-month mark. Moderna and Pfizer have both said they’ve seen good results and a need for boosting at the six month mark.

During a briefing this week, top medical advisor to the President, Dr. Anthony Fauci, cited two studies out of Israel. That country is already administering third doses. The data showed 12 days after a third dose, people were at a 10-times lower risk for severe illness and at 48 to 68 percent lower risk for infection.

“There’s no doubt from the dramatic data from the Israeli study that the boosts that are being now done and contemplated here support, very strongly, the rationale for such an approach, based on the very favorable data associated with boost,’ Fauci said.

There is, however, still a lot to sort through. The FDA is waiting on raw data from those Israel studies to confirm results. The Associated Press reported Moderna’s application didn’t have enough data, so October is a more likely time frame for those boosters to be authorized.

Johnson & Johnson was the last vaccine to get authorized, so it was always going to be the last to collect booster data. The company said it plans on filing for authorization of a second dose by the end of the year.

“The company has signaled that the data is, in fact, incredibly reassuring. If that’s true, I think it’s worth us collectively waiting a few weeks to better understand what that really looks like. So sit tight,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious diseases expert at Duke.

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