Pfizer, U.S. health officials, will discuss COVID boosters on Monday
WASHINGTON – COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer Inc will meet with federal health officials as early as Monday to discuss the need for a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine while it prepares to apply for approval, the company said on Sunday.
The meeting comes days after the drug maker and its partner BioNTech SE announced plans to approve a third dose of their COVID-19 syringe in the US and Europe as variants and data spread that six months after primary vaccination an increased risk of infection exhibited.
That push resulted in a swift response from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said Americans don’t need a booster right now.
A company spokesman said Pfizer will meet with representatives from the FDA on Monday. The meeting was first reported by the Washington Post.
U.S. Department of Health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Anthony Fauci, Senior Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, who also directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the directors of the National Institutes of Health and the CDC were also among those invited to the briefing, which was postponed to another day could be, according to the Post report.
Fauci said in several television interviews on Sunday that U.S. health officials are not denying the possible future need for boosters – especially as breakthrough infections have emerged among those vaccinated – but that more data is needed for each formal recommendation.
“A lot of dynamic things are happening right now,” he told ABC News’ This Week.
“There are studies going on right now as we talk about if and when we should empower people … there is a lot of work going on looking into this in real time,” he added on CNN’s State of the Union. “
Despite the statement by the FDA and the CDC, “That doesn’t mean that we’re not very, very actively tracking and collecting all of this information to see if and when we need it, and if and when we have everything in place, to do it. “
U.S. health officials are still struggling to get people in some areas to get their primary vaccination as the highly contagious Delta variant has become the dominant strain in the country and COVID-19 cases are increasing mainly among the unvaccinated.
European officials also said vaccines currently appear to protect against variants. Canada has also announced that it will monitor variants and the possible need for boosters.
While some scientists have also questioned the need for booster vaccinations, others have said they could be beneficial for the elderly and other vulnerable populations, although it is unclear when they will be needed.
Some public health experts have also expressed concern that the approval of boosters in wealthy developed countries while other countries are still battling primary vaccination will further exacerbate vaccine injustice.