Pfizer is about to seek U.S. authorization for a third dose of its, saying Thursday that another shot within 12 months could dramatically boost immunity and help ward off the latest worrisome coronavirus mutant.
Research from multiple countries shows the Pfizer shot and other widely used COVID-19strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, which is spreading rapidly worldwide and now accounts for most new U.S. infections.
Two doses of most vaccines are critical to developing high levels of virus-fighting, not just the delta variant — and most of the world still is desperate to get those initial protective doses as the pandemic continues to rage.
But antibodies naturally wane over time, so studies are underway to tell if and when boosters might be needed. On Thursday, Pfizer’s Dr. Mikael Dolsten told The Associated Press that early data from the company’s booster antibody levels jump five- to 10-fold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.
In August, he said Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of a third dose. Why might that matter for fighting the? Dolsten pointed to data from Britain and Israel showing the Pfizer vaccine “neutralizes the delta variant very well.” The assumption, he said, is that when antibodies drop low enough, the delta virus eventually could cause a mild infection before the kicks back in.
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But FDA authorization would be just a first step — it wouldn’t automatically mean Americans get offered boosters, cautioned Dr. William Schaffner, a millions of people have no protection.. Public health authorities must decide if they’re needed, especially since
“The vaccines were designed to keep us out of the hospital” and continue to do so despite the more contagious, he said. Giving another dose would be “a huge effort while we are striving to get people the first dose.”
Currently, only about 48% of the U.S. population is — highly immunized swaths of America are getting back to normal while hospitalizations are rising in other places.— and some parts of the country have far lower immunization rates, where the delta variant is surging. On Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that’s leading to “two truths”
“This rapid rise is troubling,” she said: A few weeks ago, theaccounted for just over a quarter of new U.S. cases, but it now accounts for just over and in some places, such as parts of the Midwest, as much as 80%. Also, Thursday, researchers from France’s Pasteur Institute reported new evidence that complete vaccination is critical.
In laboratory tests, the team reported in the journal Nature, blood from several dozen people given their first dose of the“barely inhibited” the delta variant. But dose, nearly all had what researchers deemed an immune boost strong enough to neutralize the delta variant — even if it was a little less potent than against earlier versions of the virus.
The French researchers alsowho had survived a bout of the coronavirus and found their antibodies were four-fold less potent against the new mutant. But a single dramatically boosted their antibody levels, sparking cross-protection against the delta variant and two other mutants. That supports public health rather than relying on natural immunity.
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The lab experiments add to real-world data that themost widely used in Western countries but underscore that getting more of the world immunized before the virus evolves even more is crucial.
Researchers in Britain found two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, for example, are 96% protective against hospitalization with theand 88% effective against symptomatic infection. That finding was echoed last weekend by Canadian researchers, while a protection against mild delta infection may have dipped lower to 64%.
Even before the delta variant came along, the vaccines weren’t perfect, but the best evidence suggests that if vaccinated people nonetheless get the coronavirus, they’ll have much milder cases. Whether thein places where the delta variant is surging is growing. In the U.S., the don’t need to.
“Let me emphasize if you were vaccinated, you have a very high degree of protection,” Dr., the U.S. government’s top , said Thursday.
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In the U.S.,for weeks, and hospitalizations have started to tick up, rising 7% from the previous seven-day average, Walensky told reporters Thursday. However, deaths remain down on average, which some experts believe is at least partly due to high in people 65 and older — who are among the most susceptible to severe disease.