The companies made their announcement without releasing any new data, but noted plans to publish new information soon. A Pfizer spokesperson later told CNN that the company plans to file for emergency use authorization for a booster dose with the US Food and Drug Administration in August.
The statement also said, “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
But that science is unclear, and there is still much to learn about the potential need for booster doses of coronavirus vaccine. Here is what we do and don’t know.
“We respect what the pharmaceutical company is doing, but the American public should take their advice from the CDC and the FDA,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday. “The message is very clear: the CDC and the FDA say if you have been fully vaccinated at this point in time, you do not need a booster shot.”
Known — vaccines still work, even against variants
Vaccine makers are looking ahead at what might be needed in the future while public health officials are focused on the present need for vaccinations, Dr. Jerome Adams, former US surgeon general under the Trump administration, told CNN’s John Berman on Friday morning.
The Israeli government’s statement said that as of June 6, the vaccine provided 64% protection against all infections, including asymptomatic infection and mild disease, and 93% efficacy in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.
When it comes to whether booster doses might be needed to help protect people against emerging coronavirus variants specifically, Schaffner said that the Pfizer vaccine and others already have been shown to still offer some protection.
Overall, since protection from the vaccine against severe Covid-19 still remains high, Schaffner said that fully vaccinated people should not worry.
“Protection against hospitalization and intensive care unit admission and dying continues — and so, those antibodies that are produced by the vaccine are really still providing very solid protection for persons who have received the vaccine,” Schaffner said, adding that he is fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
“We had hoped that the vaccines could protect not only against serious disease, but our getting infected. They do have some impact in diminishing our chance of getting infected,” he added. “It’s not as good as we had hoped, but that’s less important, because the main goal of the vaccine was to keep us out of the hospital, and vaccines continue to do that very well.”
Unknown — when we will need third doses of vaccine
Experts say more data is needed to decide on whether people might eventually need booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
A rise in so-called breakthrough cases might offer a clue in the future, federal vaccine advisers said during a meeting in June. A “breakthrough” infection refers to Covid-19 cases that occur after someone has been fully vaccinated.
Committee members mostly agreed that more data around the benefits of boosters is needed — but a rise in “breakthrough” infections could be a sign in the future that immunity is waning and it’s time to reevaluate the need for boosters.
“I think the only thing we can do at this moment is, if we start to see an uptick in reinfections in people, or new infections in people who have been vaccinated, that’s our clue that we need to move quickly,” ACIP member Dr. Sharon Frey, who is a vaccine specialist at St Louis University Medical School, said in last month’s meeting.
In general, “what we are looking for is both a very careful look at breakthrough cases and also…