Covid-19: United States authorizes booster dose for immunocompromised

People with weakened immune systems will be able to receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna anti-Covid vaccine to boost their protection against the disease, the US Medicines Agency announced Thursday. A million people have already made sure to obtain it without it being authorized to them.

The United States authorized, Thursday, August 12, the injection of a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 for people with weakened immune systems.

“The country has entered a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the FDA is fully aware that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk of contracting serious illness,” said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the United States Drugs Agency (FDA).

This third dose is recommended only for people whose immune system is weakened, for example due to an organ transplant or a disease, such as AIDS or cancer. The weak immune system can come from health problems of these patients, but also from the drugs they take to solve them. This is the case, for example, in transplant recipients, who follow treatments intended to lower the immune system to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.

Less than 3% of American adults are immunocompromised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the country’s leading federal public health agency. In these people, the immune response triggered by the injection of the vaccine is weaker than in healthy people, which affects its effectiveness.

“Other people who have the full vaccination schedule are properly protected and do not need an extra dose of the Covid vaccine to date,” said Janet Woodcock.

Against the moratorium requested by the WHO

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on booster doses to fight inequality between rich countries, where vaccines abound, and poor countries, which have failed to immunize. only a small part of their population.

The United States rejected the call, saying it did not “need” to choose between administering a third dose to its citizens or donating it to poor countries. Israel also plans to administer a third dose, with very broad criteria since the Jewish state recommends it for everyone over 50. As for France, President Emmanuel Macron announced that a booster dose would be administered to people over 80 and particularly vulnerable people from September.

According to ABC, an internal document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that in the United States about a million people have already arranged to get a third injection without being authorized.

Vaccines are free and widely available in the United States, but only half of the population is fully vaccinated . The pace of vaccination in the country has slowed especially in politically conservative parts of the South and Midwest, and among younger people, low-income people and racial minorities.

Pfizer has said the efficacy of the vaccine it developed with BioNTech drops over time, citing a study that showed 84% effectiveness from a peak of 96% four months after a second dose.

Moderna has also said it sees the eventual need for booster doses, especially since the Delta variant has caused “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people.

Reports of infections among vaccinated people and concerns about diminishing protection have galvanized wealthy nations to distribute booster shots, even as many countries struggle to access first vaccine doses.

Spurred by the Delta variant, coronavirus cases in the United States have spiked to their highest levels in more than six months, according to a Reuters tally.

Those with weak immune systems may not be sufficiently protected by their existing COVID-19 vaccinations, U.S. health officials have said.

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines for some people with weakened immune systems, giving physicians more leeway to protect those who did not respond enough to an initial series of shots.

The authorization, in the form of updates to the existing emergency use authorizations for the two vaccines, applies to people who received solid organ transplants and others with similarly compromised immune systems, the F.D.A. said.

The agency’s decision came a day before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent advisory committee was set to consider and vote on whether to recommend the move. The committee is likely to give its approval, and the C.D.C. would follow with its own endorsement of the additional doses.

“The F.D.A. is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting F.D.A. commissioner, said in a statement. “After a thorough review of the available data, the F.D.A. determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines.”

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