A group of over a dozen experts, including two FDA vaccine officials who will be stepping down from their posts later this year, wrote in a paper published on Monday that current evidence does not support providing COVID-19 booster shots for the general public.
The paper, published in the medical journal Lancet, comes ahead of a high-profile Food and Drug Administration meeting, where an advisory panel will review Pfizer data and consider whether to recommend a booster for members of the public who have already been fully inoculated.
President Joe Biden has said that, if regulators approve COVID-19 booster shots, they would be rolled out as soon as the week of September 20, 2021. But the paper put out by the scientists Monday shows that some experts — including Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, two FDA scientists who are leaving the agency amidst the politicization of boosters — aren’t currently in favor of the additional shots.
“The vaccines that are currently available are safe, effective, and save lives. The limited supply of these vaccines will save the most lives if made available to people who are at appreciable risk of serious disease and have not yet received any vaccine,” wrote the group.
In another portion of the 4-page paper, the group said that, while “efficacy of most vaccines against symptomatic diseases is somewhat less for the delta variant than for the alpha variant, there is still high vaccine efficacy against both symptomatic and severe disease due” to delta. “Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high.”
They later wrote, “Careful and public scrutiny of the evolving data will be needed to assure that decisions about boosting are informed by reliable science more than politics.”
They also wrote that boosters may be necessary for some individuals, such as the immunocompromised, and may still “ultimately be needed in the general population” at a later time.
As The Daily Wire reported earlier this month, two top Biden administration health officials recently told officials that the incoming data was lagging and was unlikely to support a blanket booster policy. After the health officials’ private comments were reported in media, the Biden administration responded by saying they were intent on following the science, and all of this was part of that process.
“We are awaiting a full review and approval by the FDA and a recommendation by the [CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices],” said White House spokesperson Chris Meagher. “When that approval and recommendation are made, we will be ready to implement the plan our nation’s top doctors developed so that we are staying ahead of this virus.”
The group of scientists, however, wrote Monday that instead of focusing on COVID-19 vaccine boosters, experts should be getting vaccines to first-time recipients. By doing so, the vaccines can save more lives than they would if they had been used for boosters, and also inhibit the “further evolution of variants.”
“Indeed, WHO has called for a moratorium on boosting until the benefits of primary vaccination have been made available to more people around the world,” wrote the scientists for the Lancet paper. “This is a compelling issue, particularly as the currently available evidence does not show the need for widespread use of booster vaccination in populations that have received an effective primary vaccination regimen.”