With delta variant cases climbing, how can you protect yourself from the dominant COVID-19 strain? Here’s what to know about the discussion over vaccine boosters.
With the delta variant becoming the dominant coronavirus strain, Pfizer said Thursday it’s making a booster shot for its COVID-19 vaccine. The new booster shot will target the highly contagious delta mutation, which has spread to 100 countries and is responsible for a growing number of new infections in the US.
In a recent press release, Pfizer said a third shot of its vaccine would enhance the immunity of those who’ve already received the first two vaccine shots. In addition to creating a booster for its existing vaccine, the drugmaker said it would formulate a new version of its COVID-19 vaccine to target the delta variant. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration responded with a joint statement that fully vaccinated Americans “do not need a booster shot at this time.”
Earlier this month, the CDC and World Health Organization issued contradictory guidance on the need for fully vaccinated people to wear face masks. That debate, along with the ongoing discussion of booster shots, underscores how scientists and other health experts continue to grapple with the uncertainties of COVID-19 as restrictions loosen. Here’s what we know about Pfizer’s plans for a booster, and why the CDC and FDA caution against it, at least for now.
Why would Pfizer develop a COVID-19 booster shot?
Along with Moderna, Pfizer’s current two-dose vaccine provides effective protection against all known variants of COVID-19 — including the delta variant. Studies have shown the Pfizer vaccine to be over 90% effective against the virus. So why is the drugmaker pushing for a booster shot?
Pfizer said its own research showed a third booster of its current vaccine increased antibody levels five to 10 times higher over its two-dose shots. The company noted its results have not been published or peer-reviewed.
Pfizer said it believes the level of protection the two doses of its vaccine provide can decrease over time, and a third booster dose may be needed “within six to 12 months” after a person is fully vaccinated. To prepare for the booster, Pfizer is testing both the effectiveness of a third dose of its current vaccine and working on an updated version targeting the delta variant. ReadMore
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