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Senior US health official predicts booster access to be expanded in coming weeks

A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pennsylvania, September 14, 2021. (AP/ Matt Rourke)
A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at the Reading Area Community College in Reading, Pennsylvania, September 14, 2021. (AP/ Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON — The US National Institutes of Health director says a government advisory panel’s decision to limit Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans who are 65 and older, as well as those at high risk of severe disease is a preliminary step and predicts broader approval for most Americans “in the next few weeks.”

Dr. Francis Collins tells “Fox News Sunday” that the panel’s recommendation Friday was correct based on a “snapshot” of available data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s two-shot regimen over time. But he says real-time data from the US and Israel continue to come in showing waning efficacy among broader groups of people that will need to be addressed soon.

Collins, who also appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” says: “I think there will be a decision in the coming weeks to extend boosters beyond the list that they approved on Friday.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, praises the advisory board’s plan for covering a “good chunk” of Americans. But he stresses that “this is not the end of the story,” based on evolving data and says the recommendations will likely be expanded in the coming weeks to months.

The Food and Drug Administration will consider the advisory group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also is set to weigh in this week.

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