April 15 (Reuters) – The United States is preparing for thepossibility that a booster shot will be needed between nine to12 months after people are initially vaccinated againstCOVID-19, a White House official said on Thursday.
While the duration of immunity after vaccination is beingstudied, booster vaccines could be needed, David Kessler, chiefscience officer for President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response taskforce told a congressional committee meeting.
“The current thinking is those who are more vulnerable willhave to go first,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourlasaid people will ‘likely’ need a third booster dose of COVID-19vaccines within 12 months and could need annual shots, CNBCreported based on his comments from April 1, which were madepublic on Thursday. (https://cnb.cx/2Q4MXS1)
Initial data has shown that vaccines from Moderna Incand partners Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SEretain most of their effectiveness for at least sixmonths, though for how much longer has not been determined.
Even if that protection lasts far longer than six months,experts have said that rapidly spreading variants of thecoronavirus and others that may emerge could lead to the needfor regular booster shots similar to annual flu shots.
The United States is also tracking infections in people whohave been fully vaccinated, Rochelle Walensky, director of theU.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention told the Housesubcommittee hearing.
Of 77 million people vaccinated in the United States, therehave been 5,800 such breakthrough infections, Walensky said,including 396 people who required hospitalization and 74 whodied.
Walensky said some of these infections have occurred becausethe vaccinated person did not mount a strong immune response.But the concern is that in some cases, they are occurring inpeople infected by more contagious virus variants.
Earlier this month, Pfizer and partner BioNTechsaid their vaccine was around 91% effective in preventingCOVID-19, citing updated trial data that included more than12,000 people fully inoculated for at least six months.(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysenin Chicago, additional reporting by Mrinalika Roy; Editing byBill Berkrot and Arun Koyyur)
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