Experts are urging the White House to drop its plan to roll out COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all Americans, according to a new report.
A group of vaccine experts outside the administration – some of whom even took part in President Biden’s transition team – advised federal officials to narrow the scope of the booster rollout, sources familiar with the matter told POLITCO.
The intention to make additional shots of the vaccine available has been controversial among health experts since it was first unveiled in August.
Many doctors have vocally opposed third shots becoming available to all Americans, and the shots failed to receive approval from regulators by the targeted September 20 launch date.
Outside advisors reportedly told federal officials on September 27 to scrap plans to roll out COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all Americans. The booster rollout has faced many setbacks since its announcement in late August. Pictured: A woman in Miami, Florida, receives a Covid booster shot on October 5
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) was on the call with the outside advisors, and pushed back against their recommendations
POLITICO reports that the conversation occurred on September 27, and included Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Cameron Webb, a White House policy advisor, among other leaders from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It was a reportedly tense call, with Fauci and other federal officials pushing back on the advice from the outsiders.
‘More than anything, it was like Fauci felt he needed to make a point,’ a source with knowledge of the call told Politico.
The Biden administration first announced plans to make booster shots available to every American in late August.
Shots were to become available to all who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, six months after receiving their second shots.
The plan was pending approval from regulators, however, and faced immediate backlash from health experts and some regulators.
A group of 18 senior FDA officials wrote a report opposing the booster shots, saying doses should instead be donated to other countries to prevent the emergence of variant abroad.
Among them were Dr Philip Krause and Dr Marion Gruber, two officials who plan to soon resign in protest of the White House decision to announce the booster shots before regulators had a chance to evaluate data.
Krause will leave in early November while Gruber plans to retire at the end of the month.
President Joe Biden (pictured) pushed to have boosters available to all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine by September 20, though the additional shots failed to get authorization from regulators
In late September, the FDA gave emergency use authorization for the Pfizer booster shot, but only to Americans over the age of 65 or those at high-risk due to underling conditions or their jobs.
Some advisors from the FDA and CDC both oppose the universal roll out of boosters due to limited evidence that the shots are needed at this time.
The Moderna vaccine booster is still pending approval, although data from the company has been submitted to regulators.
The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely receive a booster shot in the near future as well, with the firm submitting its application to the FDA just this week.
The White House wanted to roll out boosters to combat the waning efficacy of the available Covid vaccines.
Studies have found that the vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing infections can drop below 50 percent months after it is administered.
While the risk for infections does go up, breakthrough cases still rarely result in hospitalization or death.
Because of the vaccine’s ability to prevent serious cases of the virus, the FDA officials still find the two-shot regimen effective.
‘Although the idea of further reducing the number of COVID-19 cases by enhancing immunity in vaccinated people is appealing, any decision to do so should be evidence-based and consider the benefits and risks for individuals and society,’ the officials wrote in the report.
‘COVID-19 vaccines continue to be effective against severe disease, including that caused by the Delta variant.
‘Most of the observational studies on which this conclusion is based are, however, preliminary and difficult to interpret precisely due to potential confounding and selective reporting.’
Dr Anna Durbin, an international health professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, told DailyMail.com that the goals of advisors supporting booster shots for all Americans are ‘unrealistic.’
‘The advisors who are pro-booster expect sterilizing immunity – they want the vaccines to prevent infection. This is unrealistic given COVID is a respiratory virus and is not needed,’ she wrote in an email.
‘…Transmission from vaccinated people is not driving the spread of COVID, it is transmission from unvaccinated people.
‘Getting everyone in the world vaccinated should be the priority.’
Currently, only around 46 percent of the global population has received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine.
The rollout is especially dire in Africa, where less than seven percent of the continent’s population has been jabbed.
While a majority of Americans are fully vaccinated, variants could emerge elsewhere in the globe and eventually arrive stateside – like the Delta variant which originated in India.
Experts fear that a vaccine-resistant variant could eventually emerge as well, potentially putting the world back into the same situation from the beginning of the pandemic.