As the government battles to combat the Delta version, the US granted an extra dose of Covid-19 vaccine for patients with compromised immune systems from Thursday to Friday.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency use authorisation for a third injection of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
“The country has entered yet another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
According to the FDA, the increased dose was intended for solid organ transplant recipients or individuals with similarly impaired immune systems.
Following a similar action by Israel, US health officials were contemplating whether a third treatment could be warranted.
According to some media estimates, one million Americans may have received unapproved third doses in an attempt to boost their protection against the coronavirus.
“At this moment, individuals who are completely vaccinated are adequately protected and do not require an extra dose of Covid-19 vaccine,” Woodcook added.
On Friday, a CDC advisory group voted in favor of the move, and the agency subsequently published its guidelines for the administration of a third dose for use by healthcare professionals.
However, the committee stated that persons who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, a small percentage of the US population, were excluded from the judgment owing to a lack of data.
Earlier this month, the United States rejected the World Health Organization’s request for a moratorium on booster doses to help alleviate the extreme disparity in dose distribution between affluent and poor countries.
More than 619,000 people have died in the United States as a result of Covid-19, with case counts growing significantly in recent months as the Delta version spreads.
The country’s quick immunization program encountered opposition in politically conservative sections of the South and Midwest, particularly among lower-income people and racial minorities.
However, officials this week praised recent gains, noting that a half-million people are being vaccinated every day, as well as increased vaccination rates among youth and in virus hotspots such as Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Following the FDA decision, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel stated that tests showed that a third dose could help immunocompromised persons.
Covid-19 vaccinations are free and widely available in the United States, despite the fact that only half of the population has been properly immunized.
“Right now, save for the immuno weakened, we’re not going to be providing anybody boosters,” top US Covid-19 advisor Anthony Fauci told NBC on Thursday.
“But we’ll be watching them closely, and if they do need it, we’ll be ready to provide it to them… there will obviously be a time when we’ll have to offer boosts.”
Scientists on the CDC committee will reconvene at the end of August to analyze data on the possibility of recommending a third dose for other population categories, such as adults over 65, long-term nursing home residents, and health care professionals.
These communities were among the first in the United States to receive a vaccine, and health officials want to see if their level of protection against Covid-19 has deteriorated over time.
Any such choice, according to Sara Oliver, a CDC physician, would “need to focus on the avoidance of serious disease, hospitalization, and death.”
In response to an increase in hospitalizations, President Joe Biden declared in July that all federal employees must certify to being vaccinated or face harsh limitations such as monthly testing.
Coronavirus infections have risen to a daily average of more than 100,000, a number not seen since the winter surge, thanks to the extremely contagious Delta strain.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT