Pfizer is expected to brief U.S. health officials on the need for a COVID-19 booster shot in the coming days, several sources tell the Washington Post.
News of the reported briefing comes after government agencies pushed back on the vaccine manufacturer’s announcement this week that they were seeking permission for a third dose of its coronavirus vaccination.
Pfizer and six people familiar with the plans confirmed to the newspaper that a meeting could likely take place on Monday. The meeting is expected to be similar to a briefing the company gave European officials last week about a potential booster shot.
The people who are familiar with the case, and who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity, said that those who were invited to the planned briefing include medical advisers in the White House Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins and Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky The Hill’s Morning Report: Afghanistan’s Future Now Up to Afghans, Biden says California’s state capital tightens masking policy following recent instances of COVID-19 Risks rise as the Trump administration’s vaccination gap widens MORE.
Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Chief COVID-19 Scientist David Kessler and the Surgeon General, Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyWhite House puts top officials in vaccine flash The White House admits July 4 vaccine marker will be missed The Hill’s Morning Report – After senior Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE, has also been invited, according to Posten.
A Pfizer spokesman confirmed the meeting to Posten, but the representative did not provide further information.
The Hill has reached out to Pfizer for comment as well as the White House, CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The question of whether a COVID-19 booster shot is needed in the future sparked the debate this week after Pfizer / BioNTech said they had seen the companies “encouraging data” from an ongoing trial of a third inoculation.
The companies also cited data from the Israeli Ministry of Health showing “vaccine effectiveness in preventing both infection and symptomatic disease has dropped six months after vaccination.”
However, U.S. health agencies quickly pushed back, with the CDC and FDA saying in a joint statement shortly after Pfizer’s announcement that “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this point.”
“The FDA, CDC and NIH are involved in a scientific and rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster may be needed,” the statement added. “This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data and cohort data – which may include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but are not solely dependent on this data.”
“We will continue to review new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed,” the agencies said. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when science shows they are necessary.”
Some experts have warned that pharmaceutical companies have a financial incentive to develop more shots of their vaccines and for the government to buy more doses.
Fauci said Friday that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had called him to apologize for not warning top health officials ahead of the company’s announcement that it would seek FDA approval for a third dose.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert went on to say that the “coordination that has taken place” between pharmaceutical companies and government agencies “in the rollout of vaccines over the last four or five months has been extremely good.”