The U.S. could be prepared to start rolling out distribution of a Pfizer booster shot for COVID-19 beginning the week of Sept. 20 — but Moderna may take bit longer, Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
“Looks like Pfizer has their data in, likely would meet the deadline,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
“We hope that Moderna would also be able to do it, so we could do it simultaneously. But if not, we’ll do it sequentially,” Fauci added. “So bottom line is very likely at least part of the plan will be implemented, but, ultimately, the entire plan … It looks good.”
The CDC has said Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients will also likely need a booster, but “the data needed to make this decision aren’t available yet.”
A booster after full vaccination would increase immunity and help stem breakthrough and delta variant COVID-19 cases, Fauci noted. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Biden administration is likely to recommend a booster at least six months after a full vaccination.
Fauci said later on CNN: “What we’re observing now — not only here in the United States but in other countries, including Israel and the UK — [is] that the durability of the protection” of a full vaccination “tends to wane, particularly in the context of the delta variant.”
He said data from Israeli studies show booster doses offer “profound” protection against infection and hospitalization.”
The data “also show that when you give those boosters you reconstitute, to an even higher level than before, the protection against both infection and hospitalization,” Fauci said. “The boosters really jack up the response very, very high, and we hope that that response would be durable.”
He cautioned that for people who have been fully vaccinated with Moderna, it’s “better to wait” for the Moderna booster than get a Pfizer injection. But the U.S. plans to release data in the coming weeks on mixing vaccines, Fauci noted.
The Pfizer vaccine is the one most used in the country. More than 95 million people have received the full two-shot regimen, according to the CDC.
About 66 million people have been fully vaccinated with the Moderna shot, and some 14 million have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.