• Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

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F.D.A. Vaccine Panel Meeting on Pfizer Booster Shots

“You’re making incredibly important policy, policy decisions, very rapidly in a situation of uncertainty,” he said, “and there are very good reasons those decisions have to be made.” But he warned that it was difficult for scientists to reach sound conclusions based on studies of a rapid rollout of vaccines. Those evaluating the case for boosters should be “cautious” of any apparent short-term effects of a booster dose, he said.

Israeli experts told the committee that they believed a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech helped dampen a fourth wave of infection due to the Delta variant, which swept the nation this summer. The nation started offering boosters in late July.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel’s head of public health services, described the rise in the number of hospitalized patients who had been fully vaccinated with two shots of Pfizer’s vaccine as “scary.” After offering boosters to the general population, she said, the nation is now averaging about half as many severe or critically ill patients as the Ministry of Health had anticipated.

Top federal health officials, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, have argued for weeks that immunity against infection is waning in fully vaccinated people, and that there are hints of diminished protection against more severe forms of Covid-19. Their concern, in other words, is that vaccinated people are becoming more at risk not only of getting asymptomatic or mild cases over time, but of getting sick enough to be hospitalized.

Eight of those officials in August signed a policy statement saying that boosters would be needed and that the administration was prepared to deliver them for adults as early as the week of Sept. 20, a decision some public health experts said was premature. On Friday, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, defended the administration’s decision to publicly announce plans for a late September rollout, emphasizing it has always been contingent on F.D.A. clearance.

“​If you want to roll out booster shots to the population, you can​’t​ flip a switch and make that happen overnight​,” Dr. Murthy said at a White House briefing. “It’s important planning that has to take place with localities,​ with state governments​,​ with community organizations​. And so we laid out an initial plan for that purpose​.”

In its application to the F.D.A., Pfizer is asking for boosters to be given six months after the second dose, not eight months after, as President Biden called for in his booster plan last month.