Unpublished data from Israel is driving the Biden administration’s push to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all Americans starting next week.
This data has reportedly provided the White House COVID-19 team with compelling evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine becomes less effective over time, unnamed officials told POLITICO.
The Israeli findings are ‘more comprehensive and more alarming’ than U.S. data, the officials claim.
Even Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told POLITICO the data provided enough evidence ‘that you would be impressed.’
Still, as these data are not yet public, many American scientists and public health experts remain unconvinced that booster shots are necessary for the entire population.
Biden administration officials are supporting the planned vaccine booster shot rollout with unpublished data from Israel, POLITICO reports. Pictured: Dr Rocelle Walensky (CDC Director) and Dr Anthony Fauci testify before the Senate, July 2021
About 63 percent of U.S. adults have been vaccinated thus far, and many will soon be eligible for booster shots if the Biden administration follows its planned September rollout
Booster shots – third doses of Covid vaccines – have been a major source of debate for the U.S. scientific community in recent weeks.
In late August, the Biden administration announced that booster shots would be available to all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, eight months after their second shots.
The booster shot rollout is set to begin on September 20 – though President Joe Biden has pledged that this rollout won’t begin until the appropriate federal agencies give the okay.
The potential rollout has sparked tension at those agencies – the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Leaders of both agencies have argued that booster shots are not yet necessary for all Americans.
In fact, two FDA officials – Dr Marion Gruber and Dr Philip Krause – have announced that they plan to resign following the booster shot announcement.
Those two experts joined sixteen other senior FDA officials in authoring a report recently published in The Lancet, which argued there’s no evidence for booster shots at this time.
‘Even if boosting were eventually shown to decrease the medium-term risk of serious disease, current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations than if used as boosters in vaccinated populations,’ the Lancet authors wrote.
But the White House Covid team reportedly has access to data that does show booster shots are necessary to decrease the risk against serious disease, according to POLITICO.
These data – which are not yet available to the general public – are drawn from research in Israel.
The Israeli findings reportedly show that ‘the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to prevent severe disease and hospitalization is waning over time,’ according to two government sources who spoke to POLITICO.
Fauci said he found the Israeli vaccine efficacy data impressive. Pictured: Fauci in May 2021
Israel has been a source for vaccine efficacy data throughout 2021 because the nation has an earlier and faster rollout than the U.S.
Unlike other countries, the U.S. also has not comprehensively tracked breakthrough cases, outside of those that lead to hospitalization or death.
Israel is one of the first countries to give booster shots, which started with residents ages 60 and older in July and now includes residents over age 30.
The U.S. booster shot plan may follow a similar trajectory.
The CDC has published some studies suggesting that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines become less able to protect recipients against infection over time, suggesting a potential need for boosters.
One study published on September 10 found that vaccine effectiveness against infection declined from 91 percent to 78 percent during the Delta surge.
But the Israeli data are reportedly ‘more comprehensive and more alarming,’ according to POLITICO.
During the Delta surge, the Covid vaccines have become less effective at protecting Americans from infection, CDC analysis suggests
Fauci said these unpublished data demonstrate that the vaccines become less effective, to a degree ‘that you would be impressed.’
‘I would be very surprised if the U.S. data don’t turn out to be ultimately very similar to the Israeli data,’ Fauci told POLITICO.
The new data will reportedly be released soon, possibly later this week.
Based on current public information, however, many scientists remain skeptical that widespread booster shots are necessary in the U.S.
For example, physician and Covid commentator Dr Eric Topol has argued that boosters should be provided to adults over age 60 – not to all Americans.
Many experts currently argue that the U.S. government should instead prioritize sending vaccine doses to other countries, where the majority of the populations have not received even one shot.
The Biden administration maintains that the government can push for booster shots at home and vaccinations abroad at the same time.