Amid growing evidence that the existing vaccines offer lesser protection against the new delta variant of the novel Coronavirus Covid-19, especially among those with a weak immune system, US FDA is considering approving a third vaccine dose to such people. It is expected that the Emergency Use authorizations for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be amended shortly to include the third dose requirement. 93% of all Covid-19 cases in the USA are now ones due to the delta variant.
Us Fda Set To Approve Third Vaccine Dose For People With Compromised Immune Systems
Booster doses help in multiple ways. Firstly, a booster dose helps maintain the protective response in people where the protection from the first two doses wanes over time. In addition to this, since the virus is mutating, the booster dose may target the new variant which may have not been affected by the older doses.
According to Dr. Jessica Justman, associate professor of medicine in epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, “Booster shots might be most beneficial for those who have medical conditions — such as some solid organ transplant recipients (e.g., kidney transplant) and some individuals with autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus) — that prevent them from developing an effective immune response after the first round of vaccination.”
Based on a study conducted in May at John Hopkins University School of Medicine only 17% of transplant recipients developed Covid-19 antibodies after their first dose. This number increased to 35% after their second dose. So, the evidence is strong that transplant recipients need stronger protection. It is believed that the third dose shall be offered only for immunocompromised people and covers those with solid organ transplants and others whose immune systems are compromised, roughly close to 10 million US people.
The US FDA is also taking data from countries like Israel and France where the third dose is approved for use to understand the efficacy and improvement in the protection offered by the third shot. Other than the FDA, vaccine manufacturers like Moderna and Pfizer are conducting experiments to get more data on the effects of a booster dose in immune responses.
Some experts are also advocating getting a heterogeneous boost i.e. taking a different vaccine than one previously taken. Scientists are exploring the best way to measure the immune response after vaccination, identifying which age group shall benefit the most with the third dose of a vaccine and trying to estimate the time duration between the first two doses and the booster dose.
While researchers, the CDC, US FDA, and vaccine manufacturers are trying hard to get answers to these tough questions, efforts are on to get maximum people vaccinated as early as possible. With the recent surge in the delta variant and the fact that unvaccinated individuals are the ones with the most severe symptoms, people are coming forward in large numbers to get vaccinated. There has been a big resurgence in vaccination rates. The CDC numbers show that in August so far the number of new vaccinations has more than doubled compared to July.
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