FDA advisory panel approves third dose of Pfizer vaccine for seniors and at risk

An FDA advisory committee on Friday rejected the application of a third dose of Pfizer to the general population.

Photo: ROBYN BECK / Getty Images

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected on Friday the application of a third dose of the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine against COVID-19 to Americans over 16 years of age, but it was approved for people 65 years of age or older and for the population at risk.

The panel vote, which ended 16-2, is a blow against President Biden’s plan to deliver the third puncture to the general population due to the delta variant, which is much more contagious than the previous ones.

The main doubts of the experts arose due to the scarce information from the pharmaceutical company that supports that the inoculation of an additional dose six months after the second is beneficial to control the pandemic in the country. They also weren’t sure if that extra jab would have to be applied en masse rather than specific groups.

The original White House plan was to administer a third injection from the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna, of which only the first was approved by the FDA, in a desperate attempt to reduce severe cases and deaths that almost reach 700 thousand since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

“I don’t think a booster dose is going to contribute significantly to controlling the pandemic,” said Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University. At the same time he indicated that the most important thing is that all Americans have both doses.

For her part, Dr. Amanda Cohn, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued a warning for those who have not been vaccinated since “they are the ones who continue to transmit the disease throughout the United States“.

The group of experts also mentioned the Israeli study of its application of the third dose of Pfizer-BionTech, which has been applied in that country since July of this year, claiming that its results may not be applicable to the US population.

While it is true that the panel agrees that the two doses of Pfizer are highly effective against the most severe cases, it is also known that immunological effectiveness decreases with the passing of the months, which is why they believed that Biden’s recommendation for a third at this stage is hasty.

Another concern of the expert group is related to side effects, especially with Moderna’s vaccine, since cases of cardiac inflammation have been recorded in some of those inoculated.

It is not clear if the third dose will also increase the risk of conditions like thatMeissner added.

Despite the committee’s verdict, the FDA may conduct its own study and publish it, but usually the agency follows the recommendations of experts in cases like this.

On the other hand, the CDC announced that they are evaluating whether Americans need the third booster dose. FDA and CDC approval required for additional puncture to be given the green light at the national level.

The debate of a third dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 has caused controversy, especially on the part of the World Health Organization (WHO) that points out that while countries like the United States are considering the third dose there are many other nations around the world that have not yet inoculated their inhabitants for the first time. However, it is also true that the Government is currently shipping millions of vaccines to hundreds of countries today.

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