Long Beach City Department of Health & Human Services is hosting an evening COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic on Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus. on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 in Long Beach, CA.
Francine Orr | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
Pfizer meets with federal health officials on Monday to campaign for Covid-19 vaccine booster shots as the drug company prepares for U.S. approval for a third vaccination, the company confirmed.
The meeting comes amid a public dispute between the drug maker and U.S. officials as to whether and when Americans will need additional doses of the Covid vaccines. Pfizer announced Thursday that the immunity of its two-dose vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech is declining and is now planning to apply for approval for a booster dose.
But shortly after Pfizer’s announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement condemning the company’s comments saying that Americans who were fully vaccinated against Covid are currently do not need a booster vaccination.
The debate about booster vaccination comes as the public becomes increasingly concerned about the highly communicable Delta variant – which is already the predominant form of the disease in the US – and whether current regimens of approved vaccines provide adequate protection.
Invitees include Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, according to the Washington Post.
The White House and the Department of Health declined to comment.
“It’s very unusual and frustrating,” said Dr. Paul Offit, who advises the FDA on Covid vaccines, about the meeting on Monday. “Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company. You are not a public health agency. It is not up to them to determine how this vaccine will be distributed in terms of booster doses. That depends on the epidemiological work of the CDC. “
Offit said there is currently no data to suggest that most Americans still need booster doses. If officials see an increase in the percentage of fully vaccinated people who go to hospital or die, it could be time for the booster, he said.
“Right now that percentage is less than 1%,” he said. “Maybe 5% over a year and 10 to 20% a year later” of hospital admissions and deaths are in people who are fully vaccinated.
Pfizer has cited data from Israel showing that its vaccine against serious illness and death is highly effective, but its effectiveness decreases in mild cases.
Last week, Israeli officials reported a decrease in the effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine in preventing infections and symptomatic diseases, but said it remained highly effective in preventing serious diseases.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, called Israel’s report on vaccine effectiveness “flawed” because it was based on an observational study from a single source.
People want to say, “Delta is going into vaccines,” he said. “That is not the case. This is quickly becoming the disease of the unvaccinated. We have to learn to differentiate between infection and disease.”
He said the vaccines in the US offer “excellent protection against” variants, including Delta.
“It may be that boosters are needed in selected population groups, such as immunocompromised people, and we should be open-minded about the need for boosters in the general population in the future. However, at the moment there doesn’t seem to be a need, ”he said.