“Ultimately I believe that the optimal regimen for the vaccine for the mRNAs is going to include that third booster shot,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a remote talk held as part of the Atlantic Festival.
Three doses will become “the proper, complete regimen.”
The two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, use messenger RNA technology.
The vaccines were originally recommended as a two-dose regimen, but Biden administration officials recently allowed and recommended third shots for multiple population groups, including those 65 and older.
Experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that data so far show the vaccines continue to work well in terms of preventing hospitalization and death and argued there was little reason to boost many Americans. A minority believed boosters should be widely used to bolster protection against infection. The efficacy of the shots against infection has dropped dramatically since earlier this year.
Fauci is in the minority. He says that stopping infections is important, even though the vast majority of people who get COVID-19 don’t require hospital care.
“It is an assumption that it’s OK to get infected and to get mild-to-moderate disease as long as you don’t wind up in the hospital and die. And I have to be open and honest: I reject that. I think we should be preventing people from getting sick from COVID even if they don’t wind up in the hospital,” he said.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Fauci also said that data are showing that protection from the vaccines against hospitalization is going down, starting with the elderly and occurring across other age groups. That wasn’t known during clinical trials, he said. And it isn’t known yet whether yearly boosters, backed by both Pfizer and Moderna, will be needed.
At the moment, the term “fully vaccinated” applies to people who have gotten the initial two-dose regimen, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week. But Fauci’s remarks signal that may not always be the case.
Fauci, Walensky, and other top government health officials in a joint statement in August said they were backing booster shots, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hadn’t authorized third shots for anyone unless they had weak immune systems and at least one of a certain list of medical conditions.
They said the protection provided by the vaccines was waning and they were “starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” which led them to believe that protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death “could diminish in the months ahead.”
The FDA subsequently expanded authorization of Pfizer’s shot to enable third doses for millions of Americans. Walensky approved a set of recommendations pertaining to who could get a booster, overruling the CDC’s advisory panel on a key motion.
A CDC study released on Sept. 28, relying on self-reported data among those who had received a third dose between Aug. 12 and Sept. 19, found that side effects from boosters were similar to the rate seen following the second dose. Scientists said they detected no “unexpected patterns of adverse reactions after an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine.”
Fauci is the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. The president, who received his booster on Sept. 28, said on Sept. 24 that booster shots would be available “basically across the board” in the future.