A third COVID-19 shot from one of America’s top vaccine makers might boost protection against the delta variant that’s spreading rapidly across the county.
It’s information health experts are just now learning about from new data that was released Wednesday morning. Vaccine maker Pfizer-BioNTech posted the data online, writing that people ages 18 to 55 who received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine have five times higher antibody levels than those who only receive two shots. For the older age group of 65 to 85, the Pfizer data suggests, antibody levels increase elevenfold with a third shot.
It’s important to point out that while the data sounds promising, a third shot is not being recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says a third shot could be most beneficial for people with suppressed immune systems.
“Namely people who have a suppressed immune system, those who are transplant patients, cancer, chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases that are on immunosuppressive regimens -- those are the kinds of individuals that, if there’s going to be a third boost, which might likely happen, will be among first, the vulnerable,” Fauci said.
Fauci says the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices talked about this prospect in a recent meeting and is looking at data that might push the U.S. in that direction. But not so fast, says Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, who warns Americans not to put the cart before the horse.
“At this point, I want to be very clear, people do not need to go out and get a booster shot. The decision about boosters will not be made by an individual company. It will be made by the CDC and by the FDA, in particular, looking at the whole breadth of data that will come from companies, that will come from cohorts that the CDC is now following where they’re tracking whether or not there is any waning in immunity or increasing breakthrough rates,” Murthy said.
Pfizer representatives met privately with senior U.S. scientists and regulators to press them for more evidence of increased immunity. Pfizer is still gathering data through additional research and data from Israel.