White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sept. 5 said the Pfizer-BioNTech shot will likely be the only approved COVID-19 booster by Sept. 20, the date set by federal health officials to deploy booster shots for people who received the Pfizer and Moderna shots.
Late last month, the heads of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other federal health agencies targeted Sept. 20 for the rollout of booster shots for the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Fauci appeared to demur when asked during a CBS News segment whether health officials plan to administer the boosters by that date.
“We were hoping that we would get the, both the candidates, both products, Moderna and Pfizer, rolled out by the week of the 20th. It is conceivable that we will only have one of them out, but the other would likely follow soon thereafter,” Fauci said.
Fauci added that “the reason for that is that we, as we’ve said right from the very beginning, we’re not going to do anything unless it gets the appropriate FDA regulatory approval and then the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.”
And, he added, it “looks like Pfizer has their data in and likely would meet the deadline” of Sept. 20. “So the bottom line is very likely at least part of the plan will be implemented but ultimately the entire plan will be,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Federal health officials last week issued a joint statement saying that individuals who received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer mRNA vaccine should get booster shots eight months later. Their statement didn’t include details about when those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which uses an adenovirus, should receive a booster shot, if any.
The introduction of booster shots in the United States and European nations drew condemnation from the World Health Organization (WHO), which called for a moratorium on their development. WHO officials said wealthier nations should first donate vaccines to poorer countries rather than develop boosters, a claim that was disputed by the Biden administration as “a false choice.”
In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation watchdog agency expressed skepticism about providing booster doses for everyone.
“We do need more evidence before we can make a firm decision on a much broader booster program,” professor Adam Finn said in a BBC interview last month. And, he added, the UK needs “to focus on individuals who are more likely, if you like, to get sick again if they’ve not got a booster.”