Covid-19 booster shots to be offered in the US

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT) August 19, 2021
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10:17 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

WHO recommends world’s most vulnerable get fully vaccinated before booster shots are offered elsewhere

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19, told CNN’s John Berman on New Day Tuesday that WHO continues to recommend that those most at-risk for Covid-19 around the world need to be fully vaccinated with their first and second Covid-19 shots before large populations in some countries receive a third shot. 

“I’d be very interested to learn more about the plans for this,” van Kerkhove said when asked her view of the United States possibly planning for booster shots for all Americans starting as soon as next month.

“What we are recommending at a global level, I mean this is a global pandemic and we need to think about global solutions, what our recommendation is is that all of the world’s most vulnerable, and those who are most risk, health workers, need to receive their first and second doses before large proportions of the population, or all of the population in some countries, receive that third dose.” 

She said that the science says that the vaccines are incredible safe and effective in preventing severe disease and death, and until the science says otherwise, WHO’s recommendation will remain the same. 

“To make sure that those who are most at risk, older populations, those with underlying conditions and, critically, our health workers in all countries around the world, receive that first and second dose before we do the boosters for those who don’t necessarily need it right now,” she said. 

Asked if most Americans getting booster shots is something that WHO supports, van Kerkhove said that this is a global problem that needs a global solution. 

“It’s not only about one country. We have a limited amount of vaccine, there’s a limited amount of production, we need to use those doses that is epidemiologically sound, that is morally sound, that is economically sound, that is scientifically sound. And that really is focusing on those who are most at risk,” she said.

“This is a problem that has a solution,” she said. “So, we need to use those vaccines in the most appropriate way possible around the world.” 

She acknowledged some populations may need a third dose; already, some immunocompromised people in the United States are eligible to receive a third dose of mRNA vaccine.

“We need to see what that plan is. There are possibilities and there are populations that may need that third dose,” she said. “So, we’re not against that, of course we want people to be protected and to receive the full course. But what we are trying to move against is giving a third dose to people who already are well protected.” 

 

10:08 a.m. ET, August 18, 2021

Biden administration expected to advise Covid-19 booster shots for Americans starting in September

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

Top health officials in the Biden administration are coalescing around an agreement that most Americans should get Covid booster shots eight months after becoming fully vaccinated, two sources familiar with the discussions tell CNN.

The plan — which is still being developed — would involve administering third shots beginning in mid-to-late September, one source added, pending authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that the companies have submitted initial data to the FDA to support the use of booster doses for their Covid-19 vaccines.

The plan could be announced as soon as this week, though the timing could slide. Until now, federal health officials have said boosters are not needed by the general population. Last week, the FDA authorized third doses for some people who are immunocompromised and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention almost immediately recommended giving those doses.

News of the plan for boosters for most Americans was first reported by The New York Times.

Given that health care workers and nursing home patients were first to receive their shots, the administration currently expects they’ll be first to receive boosters as well. Older populations who were also at the front of the line for first vaccinations would be next, the source said.

This is the current booster plan for those who got vaccines with two doses. Officials are still gathering data for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine. Experts currently anticipate that those who received J&J will need booster shots as well, but they will make that decision once they have more data, a source familiar with discussions told CNN.

Earlier Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said they had submitted initial data to the FDA to support the use of a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

A third dose elicited a significantly higher antibody response against the initial strain of coronavirus, as well as the Delta and Beta variants, compared with what was seen among people who got two doses, the companies said.

“Given the high levels of immune responses observed, a booster dose given within 6 to 12 months after the primary vaccination schedule may help maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.

“This initial data indicate that we may preserve and even exceed the high levels of protection against the wild-type virus and relevant variants using a third dose of our vaccine,” added Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “A booster vaccine could help reduce infection and disease rates in people who have previously been vaccinated and better control the spread of virus variants during the coming season.”

Last month, researchers reported the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides immunity that lasts at least eight months, and it appears to provide adequate protection against the worrying Delta variant. Johnson & Johnson said at the time that a second or booster dose of its vaccine would not be necessary. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have both said their two-dose vaccines are protective for at least six months.

CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this report.