US Wants COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses at 8 Months

The Biden administration reportedly hopes for FDA-authorized booster doses for the adult general population in the next month.

The Biden administration is anticipated to make an announcement as early as this week that Americans should receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine dose 8 months after their final dose, and that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster doses for the adult general public may be available by mid-September.

Federal government officials intend to announce that Americans who have received either 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 from Pfizer-BioNTech or mRNA-1273 from Moderna will require supplemental immunization against the surging delta variant, according to a report from The New York Times Monday evening.

The same report stated that their message will also stress the need for a booster dose for 1-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recipients, though such advisory is dependent on 2-dose clinical trial results anticipated for later this month.

The newest development in US COVID-19 vaccine booster dose strategies comes a few days after the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for their vaccines as booster doses available severely immunocompromised adult patients—an indication met with mixed interpretation by experts.

Reception is even more conflicted to the strategy of full population COVID-19 vaccine booster dose availability. David Weber, MD, MPH, Associate Chief Medical Officer, UNC Health Care, noted to Contagion® that the concept is supported by 2 developments: the initiation of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses in countries including Israel, and laboratory trial results showing vaccine immunity begins to wane after 6 months—while still remaining effective.

Similarly, 2 questions remain to Weber: when will vaccine-induced immunity wane enough to absolutely require booster doses? And would health authorities require the development of variant-targeting vaccine boosters?

Weber also prosed the ongoing ethics debate to Contagion which was recently raised by the World Health Organization (WHO): should stockpiled COVID-19 vaccine doses designated for booster administration instead be allocated to lesser-resourced countries?

If the US were to pursue the reported booster dose rollout strategy, Weber anticipates it would be immediately feasible. The country currently has a stockpile of approximately 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

“I don’t believe that, if we do decide to even give a booster dose to everybody in the US, that supply will be a limiting factor,” Weber said. “There may be an initial bottleneck, as we have to rev up again our vaccine centers and appointments.”

He additionally anticipated that many fully-vaccinated Americans would opt in to booster doses, while vaccine hesitant or resistant Americans may point to booster doses as a mark of failure on the effectiveness of vaccines.

“It actually may increase vaccine hesitancy, so you’ll get increasing disparities between those who’ve had and taken multiple doses with improved protection, against those who don’t want to take any vaccine doses,” Weber said.

As of August 16, 51.4% of the US population was fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Seven-day averages of new COVID-19 cases had reached 141,365 in the country.