President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci now says that vaccinated Americans with compromised immune systems may end up needing a covid-19 vaccine booster shot after all. The news comes as the country’s number of covid-19 cases continues to rise, fuelled by plateauing vaccination rates and the emergence of the ultra-transmissible Delta variant.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that a third jab “might likely happen” for certain Americans:
“Namely, people who have suppressed immune systems, those who are transplant patients, cancer chemotherapy, auto-immune diseases, that are on immunosuppressant regimens, those are the kind of individuals that if there’s going to be a third booster, which might likely happen, would be among first the vulnerable.”
It’s a departure from Fauci’s comments earlier this month that a booster shot would not be necessary to supplement previous vaccine doses. On Sunday, he said the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is reviewing data that could recommend a third jab, particularly preliminary studies that suggest there might be waning immunity among vaccinated individuals. However, he cautioned that the situation is still very much evolving.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said of the CDC’s stance on whether a vaccine booster shot is necessary. “It evolves like so many other areas of the pandemic.”
Early data from a study by Israel’s health ministry indicated that Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine was only 39% effective against preventing infection in the country in late June and early July, down from 95% in January to early April, the New York Times reports. Though it should be noted that the vaccine remained more than 90% effective at preventing severe illness from the virus.
A second study in the UK suggested that the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against preventing symptomatic disease from the Delta strand after two shots, comparable to its effectiveness against the previously dominant Alpha variant.
As to whether a booster shot could improve effectiveness rates, Fauci said that the ACIP will “continue to look at the data that might push us in that direction.” Israel has already begun administering a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine to immunocompromised individuals but hasn’t cleared it for the general public at this time.
Health officials worldwide have been increasingly sounding the alarm about the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than past strains of the coronavirus. The strain now makes up about 80% of all new cases in the U.S., up from roughly 30% in mid-June, according to the CDC.
Its spread coincides with a global surge in total cases. The number of new cases reported each day jumped by roughly 12% this past week, from 400,000 to 490,000, according to the World Health Organisation. In the U.S., where nearly 50% of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, the sharpest spikes in cases have been in states with lower vaccination rates such as Florida, Texas, and Missouri, Fauci said Sunday.
“It’s kind of like we have two kinds of America. We have the very vulnerable unvaccinated part, and we have the relatively protected vaccinated part,” Fauci told CNN.
Now, I fall into one of those vulnerable categories that Fauci mentioned. Thanks to a lovely genetic disease, I’ve been regularly taking medicine to keep my dumbass immune system from attacking me since I was a teenager. And honestly, I’m more than happy to get stabbed again if it keeps the ‘rona at bay. I say stick me up with as many boosters as you got. Hell, by the end of all this, I want covid-19 to need a vaccine from me.