While a large part of the world struggles to obtain Covid-19 vaccines, Americans who have been given the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be able to receive a third injection, eight months after the second. This recall campaign will begin from the week of September 20, United States health authorities announced on Wednesday August 18.
“The available data clearly show that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decline over time after the first doses of vaccine”, have justified, in a joint press release, senior officials including Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acting chief Janet Woodcock. “In addition to the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate cases of the disease.”, they add.
“We are ready to offer booster doses for all Americans starting the week of September 20, starting eight months after the second dose”, say the authors of the statement, also signed by the White House adviser on the pandemic, Anthony Fauci. However, this decision depends on the authorization of an additional dose of these two vaccines by the FDA, specify the authorities.
The Pfizer-BioNTech alliance announced on Monday that it had submitted initial data to the FDA showing the benefits of a third dose for immune protection. More complete results will be submitted to him ” quickly “, the companies said. Moderna is also in the process of conducting clinical trials on several versions of a booster dose, with initial positive results.
The United States initially ordered 300 million doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. They recently bought 200 million more doses from each – enough to lead this recall campaign.
Johnson & Johnson recall “probably necessary”
The first people to benefit from this booster dose will be the “Residents of retirement homes”, “Other old people” and of “Many health professionals”, who were the first population groups to be vaccinated in the United States.
The first vaccine injections took place in December 2020, with Pfizer and Moderna products having been urgently authorized, just a week apart.
A booster dose will also be “Probably necessary” for people who have received a single injection of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, health officials say. But vaccinations with this product have only started in the United States. “Until March 2021”, and data concerning them is awaited ” in the next weeks “.
People vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson – nearly 14 million – remain in the minority. Almost 60% of the American population, or more than 198 million people, has already received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19.
Several countries have already started recall campaigns targeting parts of their populations. Israel recently lowered the minimum age for a third dose to 50.
For WHO, countries with little immunization should be a priority
Shortly before the US announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended achieving full immunization coverage in areas with low immunization rates before launching booster campaigns in income countries. higher. The circulation of the Delta variant in areas with low vaccination coverage favors the transmission of Covid-19 around the world, the United Nations agency said.
“The virus, the Delta variant itself, is really circulating in areas where vaccination coverage is low and against the background of very limited and inconsistent application of public health and social measures.”, said Maria Van Kerkhove, epidemiologist at the WHO, at a press conference in Geneva. The vaccines clearly prevent the increase in severe forms of the disease and deaths from the Delta variant, added WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
According to the WHO, priority should therefore be given to full vaccination coverage in areas with low vaccination rates, due to the lack of data proving that a third dose of vaccine is necessary. “We clearly believe that the current data does not indicate that recalls are necessary”, advanced Mme Swaminathan. Further research will need to be done, she added.
“There are enough vaccines in the world, but they are not going to the right places in the right order”, commented WHO Director-General’s adviser Bruce Aylward at the same press conference. “We are very, very far” full immunization of the most vulnerable people around the world, he said.
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