Boosters not needed in general population, FDA, WHO scientists say

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COVID-19 booster vaccines are unnecessary for people who are not immunocompromised, 18 scientists — including some at the FDA and World Health Organization — wrote in a paper published Sept. 13 in The Lancet.

The authors said that none of the data produced on COVID-19 boosters provides sufficient evidence to warrant boosters for the general population. They also said that rolling out boosters before they become necessary could decrease the public's confidence in COVID-19 vaccines' efficacy.

"Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated," the authors wrote, pointing out that billions of people in other countries remain unvaccinated.

Among the 18 authors are Marion Gruber, PhD, director of the FDA's Office of Vaccines Research & Review, and Phil Krause, MD, the vaccine office's deputy director. Both officials said in August that they're stepping down from their roles, at least in part because they're frustrated with the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' push for boosters.

Pre-print data from Israel recently showed that a booster dose of Pfizer's vaccine may lower the risk of COVID-19 11-fold, but the authors cautioned that the data was collected shortly after the recipients got their third shot and the increased protection may not last over time.

Recent CDC studies have demonstrated that while COVID-19 vaccines' effectiveness at preventing infection wanes slightly over time, vaccines still provide strong protection against severe illness.

 

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