Panel of experts answer questions about COVID-19 booster shot during FDA meeting

The Food and Drug Administration wants to simplify the entire COVID-19 vaccine process to mirror what typically happens with the flu vaccine. Thursday’s meeting was focused on vaccine booster scheduling, and determining the composition of the vaccines. A local epidemiologist says it’s vital the FDA gets this right, for each and every American.

“I just want to reinforce that the Center for Disease Control continues to recommend everyone eligible for a COVID-19 bivalent booster or the flu vaccine,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro with the CDC said.

America’s top doctors met on a virtual meeting with the Food and Drug Administration, on the heels of a new study that revealed COVID boosters efficacy rate isn’t as high as some might expect.

“As we continue to monitor the changing variant landscape, we generate new pre-clinical and clinical data,” Antonella Lozito with Moderna said.

According to the newly released data, for adults ages 18-49, the boosters cut the odds of getting a symptomatic infection by just 52% and for those ages 50-64, the boosters cut the odds of getting sick to just 43%.

Epidemiologist Jonathan Kantor said the COVID-19 booster efficacy rate isn’t all that impressive, but points out, the statistics may be more important to people who are at high risk.

“So for example, if I were somebody who is very immune suppressed, I’m really concerned about getting, you know, COVID-19 and I’m really concerned about hospitalization, well, I would love something that could reduce that risk by 50%,” Kantor said. “Because, God forbid, I got sick, it could be a nightmare scenario, that’s very different from somebody who’s 25 years old, and has had COVID twice already. And they’re saying, well, wait a minute, what’s this booster gonna do for me reduce my chance of getting it again, by 50%? When I had it last time, I wasn’t that sick anyway.”

Kantor also said it’s vitally important the FDA panel finds a way to be crystal clear, and consistent in their messaging, so people understand the reasoning behind the decisions that are being made and turned into national policy.

″So I think it’s so important to keep in mind that you’re trying to protect against something that people have already been infected with, but that may be shifting and changing a little bit,” Kantor said. “It’s important to really acknowledge that and to then outline, what are the benefits of me now getting a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19, because pretty much all of us have already had COVID-19.”

Any recommendations made by the committee will have to be ratified by the FDA commissioner and then considered by an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its director.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.