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Fauci says too soon to know if COVID vaccine booster needed

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared for packaging at the company’s facility in Puurs, Belgium, March 2021. (Pfizer via AP)
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared for packaging at the company’s facility in Puurs, Belgium, March 2021. (Pfizer via AP)

WASHINGTON — The US government’s top infectious diseases expert says that “it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely” that Americans will need a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months, but it is too soon for the government to recommend another shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, says that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration did the right thing last week by pushing back against drugmaker Pfizer’s assertion about a booster within 12 months. Hours after Pfizer’s statement Thursday that it would seek authorization for a third dose, the two agencies said they did not view the booster shots as necessary “at this time.”

Fauci says clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.

“Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,” he says. “That doesn’t mean we stop there…. There are studies being done now, ongoing as we speak, about looking at the feasibility about if and when we should be boosting people.”

He says it was quite possible in the coming months “as data evolves” that the government may urge a booster based on such factors as age and underlying medical conditions. “Certainly, it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely at some time, we will need a boost,” Fauci says.

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