Fauci says everybody will likely need a Covid vaccine booster shot eventually

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 20, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Reutesr

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday it is “likely” everybody will eventually need to receive a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“We’re already starting to see indications of some diminution” in the durability of the vaccines, Fauci told “CBS This Morning.”

However, he said it’s not likely that they will be widely administered any time soon. The priority, Fauci said, is to give boosters to people who have compromised immune systems, including cancer and organ transplant patients.

“We don’t feel at this particular point that, apart from the immune-compromised, we don’t feel we need to give boosters right now,” he said.

Fauci’s comments come the same day the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize third Covid shot for people with weakened immune systems, a highly anticipated move intended to shield some of the most vulnerable Americans from the highly contagious delta variant.

Such people, including cancer and HIV patients, represent only about 2.7% of the U.S. adult population but make up about 44% of hospitalized Covid breakthrough cases, which is when a fully vaccinated individual becomes infected, according to recent data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory group.

Studies suggest that a third vaccine shot might help patients whose immune systems don’t respond as well to a first or second dose.

Covid vaccine makers, including Pfizer and Moderna, have repeatedly argued that everyone will eventually need a booster shot and potentially extra doses every year, just like for the seasonal flu. Pfizer has said it plans to ask the FDA to authorize boosters as it sees signs of waning immunity.

The U.S. drugmaker has cited data out of Israel, where officials are reporting the two-dose vaccine is now just 39% effective in the country. The vaccine is still highly effective against severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths, according to Israeli health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not currently recommend booster doses of the vaccines for otherwise healthy people at this time.

But Fauci, speaking in a separate interview on NBC’s “Today” on Thursday, said “inevitably there will be a time when we’ll have to get boosts.”

“No vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection,” he added.

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