The nation’s top infectious disease expert says every American is likely to need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot to remain protected from the virus.
In an appearance on NBC’s TODAY on Thursday, Dr Anthony Fauci spoke about the future need for third doses.
While booster shots have not yet been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate one million Americans have received unauthorized additional shots of the Covid vaccine.
Booster shots may be available soon, however, with the FDA set to approve them for the immunocompromised Americans on Thursday.
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) told TODAY show on Thursday that he believes all Americans will eventually need COVID-19 vaccine booster shots
The FDA is expected to approve vaccine booster shots for immunocompromised people in the comings days. The CDC believes more than one million unauthorized booster shots have been distributed. Pictured: A woman in Long Beach, California, receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday
‘Inevitably there will be a time when we’ll have to get boosts…no vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection.’ Fauci told TODAY.
‘What we’re doing – literally on a weekly and monthly basis – is falling cohorts of patients to determine if, when and whom should get it.’
Fauci still says the booster shots will not be made available to the general public.
‘At this moment, other than the immunocompromised, we’re not going to be giving boosters to people,’ he said.
The lack of approval given to the third shots has not deterred some Americans from taking initiative and going to receive them, though.
An internal CDC document obtained by ABC News estimates that 1.1 million Americans who have received the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have received another shot.
The data does not include people who received an unauthorized second shot after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – meaning the number of unauthorized shots distributed could be even higher.
Recipients of the J&J vaccine certainly have been eager to receive a booster shot, with San Francisco allowing those who received the one-dose vaccine to receive a second dose due to a high volume of requests.
Several countries including Chile, France, Germany and Israel have also began rolling out vaccine booster shots as well.
On Thursday, the FDA is expected to allow immunocompromised Americans to get the shots.
Health officials have long been non-committal on the need for booster shots.
Fauci said last month that he does not expect booster shots to be needed for the fully vaccinated.
He later said, though, that those who are vulnerable to the virus even after vaccination still may require a third dose.
Last week, Dr Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, said as well that booster shots were not necessary.
The science has changed, though, and now booster shots will begin to roll out amid an Indian ‘Delta’ variant fueled surge of the virus across the country.
Fauci told TODAY that the boosters are now becoming available as some people’s immunity drops ‘below a critical level’.
New average daily cases in the U.S. have increased from an average of 39,939 three weeks ago to 135,177 – an 207 percent increase.
While a majority of these cases are among unvaccinated Americans, recent data finds that the existing crop of COVID-19 vaccines may not be as effective against the Delta variant.
Data from the CDC finds that vaccinated people who contract the Delta variant release similar viral loads to unvaccinated people, meaning they may be just as able to spread the virus.
Fauci also previously said he believes the virus will mutate even more, and a strain that is resistant to the existing vaccines may form in the coming months.
Health experts hope that these booster shots will help add an extra layer of protection against existing and future variants.
Getting Americans to receive the initial vaccine regimen has been a challenge for health officials, though.
Just over 69 percent of eligible Americans – everyone aged 12 or older – have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and 59 percent are fully vaccinated.
While there has been a recent uptick in vaccine demand, less that one million Americans are receiving a shot every day, a far fall from the 3.5 million Americans who were getting jabbed per day in early April.