A vaccine adviser to the Food and Drug Administration is questioning whether young, healthy people should get new COVID-19 boosters, arguing those shots should be used for older individuals.
In his article, Offit cited two studies suggesting that bivalent boosters, which target the original COVID-19 strain and two Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA. 5, do not "elicit superior immune responses."
"Why did the strategy for significantly increasing BA.4 and BA.5 neutralizing antibodies using a bivalent vaccine fail?" he asked. "The most likely explanation is imprinting. The immune systems of people immunized with the bivalent vaccine, all of whom had previously been vaccinated, were primed to respond to the ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2. They therefore probably responded to epitopes shared by BA.4 and BA.5 and the ancestral strain, rather than to new epitopes on BA.4 and BA.5."
Offit noted that based on those studies, "boosting with a bivalent vaccine is likely to have a similar effect as boosting with a monovalent vaccine" but stressed that "booster dosing is probably best reserved for the people most likely to need protection against severe disease."
More DetailsData and studies have shown that older adults and people who have compromised immune systems are most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization, and death. Children, meanwhile, have long been shown to have the lowest chance of death, hospitalization, or developing severe symptoms since the pandemic started.
That same CDC data also shows that about 80.9 percent of all Americans received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since they were rolled out two years ago, while 69 percent have completed their initial, "primary series."
An FDA spokesperson Abigail Capobianco responded to Offit's article this week, telling NBC News that Offit allegedly used "selective" data to reach his conclusions and that "we strongly believe that the totality of the available evidence continues to support the use of these vaccines in all age groups."
“Dr. Offit is entitled to his opinion about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 bivalent vaccines used as boosters,” Capobianco also said.
Earlier this week, Offit told CNN that the CDC and FDA said they were not provided with real-world data on how well the bivalent booster performs at blocking transmission of the virus before those boosters were approved by the federal agencies. Data showed that about 1.9 percent of people who got the first booster were infected, compared with 3.2 percent who got the bivalent shot, CNN reported.
The Epoch Times has contacted Moderna and Pfizer for comment.