US okays Pfizer boosters for elders, high risk
Published: 11:18 AM, 23 September 2021 Updated: 11:19 AM, 23 September 2021
The United States has authorized the use of booster doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for people aged over 65, as well as adults at high risk of severe disease and those in high-exposure jobs.
The announcement on Wednesday means a significant part of the population — amounting to tens of millions of Americans — are now eligible for a “third shot six months after their second”, AFP reported.
Janet Woodcock, acting head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in a statement that the decision will demonstrate science and FDA’s decision-making for Covid-19 vaccines during this pandemic.
Various media including AFP, BBC, CNN, etc reported that the decision was expected and came after an independent expert panel convened by the regulatory agency last week voted in favor of recommending the move.
The panel, however, rejected an initial plan by the White House to fully approve Pfizer boosters to everyone aged 16 and over, in what amounted to a rare rebuke of President Joe Biden’s administration.
The panel including vaccinologists, infectious disease specialists and epidemiologists concluded that the benefit-risk balance differed for younger people, especially young males who are more “susceptible to myocarditis”.
The Pfizer Covid-19 boosters are currently being debated by a separate body of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – which may recommend further specifics about recipients. For example, if obesity is considered as putting a person “at high risk of severe Covid” that “would cover more than 42 percent of the US population aged over 20”.
The CDC may also have to define which workplaces and other settings might lead to “frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.” For this, the FDA indicated “health care workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced the US would buy 500 million more Pfizer doses for the world, bringing its total contribution of the global supply to 1.1 billion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for a moratorium on wealthy countries giving out boosters, while many countries — especially those in Africa — have barely begun their vaccination campaigns. – AFP