If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you don’t need a booster shot to protect against the Delta variant, the US government says.
The CDC and the FDA teamed up to issue a reassuring statement after Pfizer announced it was developing a booster shot against what is now the country’s dominant strain.
The Thursday evening press release said inoculated Americans were “protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating the country.”
The unusual after-hours joint statement comes as Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE said they plan to ask federal regulators to authorize a booster dose within a month.
Pfizer’s announcement came days after Israel’s health ministry said the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has dropped to 64 percent.
The drug company’s chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, claimed that dip was due to new infections in people who had been vaccinated in January or February and now have waning antibodies.
“It’s a small data set, but I think the trend is accurate: Six months out, given that Delta is the most contagious variant we have seen, it can cause infections and mild disease,” Dolsten said Thursday.
Pfizer claims a booster shot would increase antibody levels in patients five or 10 times over, but conceded that overseas data shows fully vaccinated people are still 95 percent protected from severe disease.
US health agencies pushed back saying they are undergoing a “science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster shot might be necessary.”
“We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed,” the CDC and FDA said.
With Post wires