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COVID-19 Booster up to Health Officials, Not Pfizer and Moderna

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  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that a COVID-19 booster shot could be necessary for the future.
  • Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have said a third shot may be necessary.
  • Fauci said that decision would be made by public health officials and not pharmaceutical companies.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the decision about whether a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot would be needed would be made by public health officials and not by pharmaceutical companies.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said that people wary of claims from Pfizer and Moderna that a booster shot of their COVID-19 vaccines could be assured that the decision wasn’t up to them.

“It is going to be a public health decision,” Fauci told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd. “It is not going to be a decision that is made by a pharmaceutical company. We’re partners with them because they’re supplying it. It’ll be an FDA/CDC decision. The CDC will use their advisory committee and immunization practices the way they always do.

Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, said earlier in April that people will likely require booster shots within one year of getting fully vaccinated. During a call with investors last week, Corinne M. Le Goff, Moderna’s chief commercial officer, said that the shift to administering booster shots could begin next year.

Results from Pfizer and Moderna’s clinical trials have indicated that the vaccine maintains efficacy for up to six months, but it’s still not known how long the vaccines will remain effective before another immunization is required.

Boosters may also be administered to target certain variants of COVID-19, like the B.1.351 strain first identified in South Africa, as Insider previously reported.

Fauci said that the CDC will use its advisory committee and the same immunization practices that they always do, which involves officials examining the durability of the vaccine over time by measuring the level of antibodies still present after a period of time.

If the level of antibodies begins to decrease after a certain point, Fauci said that public health experts could project when a booster shot would be required to prevent “breakthrough infections” of COVID-19.

“You might start seeing more breakthrough infections that go beyond the level of the efficacy of the vaccine, and then you might also make a decision to do it,” he said. “But it will be a public health-based decisin, not a pharmaceutical company-based decision.”

Fauci said Sunday he expected that the federal government would be ready to make a decision on whether and when a booster would be necessary by the end of the summer or beginning of the fall this year.

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