Questions About Further Future Shots Growing Louder

Questions About Further Future Shots Growing Louder


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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As cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise, several new questions and issues have begun to emerge about vaccinations — including the need for a third, booster shot for most Americans.

Cases of COVID-19 once again are soaring, largely fueled by those Americans on the political right who have resisted getting their jabs.

Infections are worst in those states, such as Florida, where Republican governors are taking political and ideological approaches rather than empirical, science-based solutions.

“I think what we’re starting to see now is the decline in preventing asymptomatic transmission. And we have three or four studies showing it’s going down to 40 percent to 50 percent, and that’s concerning. The good news is, if you got the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine like I did, I feel comfortable that I’m not going to go to the hospital or the intensive care unit,” said Dr Peter Hotez, director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and Texas Children’s Hospital endowed chair in tropical pediatrics, and university professor of biology at Baylor University. “But the question is going to be, what’s the trigger from [the Food and Drug Administration] and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to say, ‘Hmm, maybe we should think about a third immunization.’ Adding to the confusion is the fact that we don’t really know is this is waning immunity, declining immunity, or if it’s something unique to the Delta variant, because the two things are happening at once.

“And then finally there’s a lot of data that’s out there that’s not publicly available. So I’m pretty confident all these discussions are going on between the companies and the FDA and CDC,” Dr Hotez added. “So we’ll see if tomorrow, when they announce the third immunization for immunocompromised individuals and we’ll see what immunocompromised conditions are looking at beyond solid organ transplant recipients, whether they’ll give us a hint of what’s going on with non-immunocompromised individuals and whether they’re looking at certain age groups, etc., to decide to give that third immunization.”

That third, booster, shot is all-but-inevitable, according to Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a top advisor to President Biden on the pandemic.

“Well, I think the important to point out is — is the differences between the immunocompromised who really never got a good response to begin with. So for them it’s more of getting them up to what they hopefully had gotten the first time around, but we know because of their immune compromise they don’t,” Dr Fauci said. “That’s different than the durability of response, which means taking a person be an elderly healthy person, or a not elderly, a young, healthy person, and just continue to very, very carefully follow them, and if the level of their protection goes below a certain level, to then be ready and have a plan ready to go to get them their boost.

“In answer to your question, no vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection. So in answer to your question, it’s right, inevitably, there will be a time when we’ll have to give boosts,” he added.

And in this latest round of infections is a growing number of children falling seriously ill.

“The urgency to get the vaccines for younger children is quite extraordinary now. I mean, right now we’re entering a period that is arguably the most dangerous time for children during the entire pandemic, because we have the Delta variant, we have 93,000 children who are getting — who got infected in the last week, more than 200 kids are getting hospitalized every day, and now kids are going back to school,” said Dr Leana Wen, a CNN medical contributor and former health commissioner for Baltimore Md. “People are not using the same precautions as they were before. And so I think we need to raise the level of urgency and to really ask the question, ‘How much data are we looking for?’ I mean, how many children need to be in these studies? What is the level of safety and the time period that we need?

“Definitely, we want to make sure that these vaccines are safe and effective. Of course, we don’t want any corners to be cut, but we also need these vaccines pretty urgently, too,” Dr Wen added.

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