Dr Anthony Fauci has warned Americans that COVID vaccine booster shots are on the horizon less than a month after saying he didn’t think the injections were necessary.
‘We need to look at them in a different light,’ Fauci told CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria. ‘We will almost certainly be boosting those people before we boost the general population that’s been vaccinated, and we should be doing that reasonably soon.’
Booster shots would see fully-vaccinated people given an additional dose of a COVID jab in a bid to turbocharge their immune response to the virus, currently surging through the US again thanks to the Indian Delta variant. Sunday’s comments are not the first time Fauci has contradicted himself.
Dr. Fauci issued his support for issuing COVID-19 booster shots to individuals with weakened immune systems, including the elderly on Sunday, contradicting previous his statements
Fauci’s push for booster shots comes as the Delta variant continues to rise and even infect some people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
He argues that the majority of people with compromised immune systems ‘never did get an adequate response’ from their COVID-19 vaccination and will need an additional shot the protect them from the virus.
‘The vaccines perform quite well against Delta, however, Delta has the capability of transmitting much more efficiently than the previous variants that we had to deal with,’ Fauci said.
‘What has happened with Delta is the protection has gone down a bit so you’re going to get more so-called ‘breakthrough infections.’ But what has held steady for me is the protection against severe disease.’
A breakthrough infection occurs when a person who has been fully-vaccinated against COVID ends up contracting the virus. Earlier this month, it was revealed around 125,000 fully-vaccinated Americans had suffered breakthrough cases.
Of those patients, 1,400 went on to die. The vast majority of fully-vaccinated people who contract COVID will only experience very minor symptoms.
The medical expert said on NBC’s Meet the Press that recent data from Pfizer showed the vaccine went from an efficacy rate of the 90s to around the mid-80s a few months post-vaccination.
He notes that while the efficacy rate of the Moderna vaccine hasn’t declined ‘everyone assumes, and I think correctly, that sooner or later you’re going to see an attenuation to the point where we’re going to have to give an additional boost to people’.
‘The vaccines are still doing what you originally want them to do — to keep you out of the hospital to prevent you from getting seriously ill,’ Fauci continued.
According to Fauci, booster shots will begin to be administered to vulnerable groups ‘as soon as the data gets to us’.
‘As soon as [CDC officials] see that level of durability of protection goes down, then you will see the recommendation to vaccinate those individuals,’ he explained.
Fauci (right) announced during an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria (left) that he’s ‘strongly in favor’ of speeding up the booster shot process for higher risk people
He said that FDA emergency approval for booster shots could come ‘within the next few weeks,’ noting that he hopes ‘it’s within the month of August’
He said that FDA emergency approval for booster shots could come ‘within the next few weeks,’ noting that he hopes ‘it’s within the month of August’.
Last month, Fauci said he did not expect booster shots to be needed for the fully vaccinated individuals.
Speaking on CNN on July 11, the director of the National Institutes for Health said: ‘Given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot, a boost, superimposed upon the two doses you get with the mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine) and the one dose you get with (Johnson & Johnson).
‘There’s a lot of work going on to examine this in real time to see if we might need a boost. But right now, given the data that the CDC and the FDA has, they don’t feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted.’
The FDA and CDC backed Fauci’s claim at the time, issuing a rare joint statement saying fully vaccinated Americans ‘do not need a booster shot at this time.’
“The virus has changed. We went from a virus that was formidable but didn’t transmit nearly as well as the virus we’re dealing with today… the situation is understandably a bit complicated.”
– Dr. Anthony Fauci on how well Covid vaccines protect against the new Delta variant. pic.twitter.com/vEVRGBgonU
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 8, 2021
“We are looking forward with a concept of pandemic preparedness,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“We have to learn the lessons of this extraordinary tragedy that we’re going through now, the worst experience this planet has had in over 100 years.” pic.twitter.com/rGByghQ68Z
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 8, 2021
The medical expert has flip-flopped on COVID guidance before.
He initially told Americans not to worry about wearing face masks early in the COVID crisis in spring 2020. He later became a huge supporter of public masking, and claimed his early dismissal of face coverings had been to try and conserve then-tight supplies for medical staff.
The veteran immunologist – who has served as director of the National Institutes of Health since 1984 – has also faced criticism for initially steering conversation away from claims that COVID may have leaked from a Wuhan virus lab, insisting the virus had almost certainly leapt into people from an animal.
He now says he is open to that theory.
Fauci has previously defended his contradicting advice, saying that people who criticize him for his COVID-19 ‘flip-flopping’ are actually condemning science itself.
He claimed any changes in his recommendations were solely based on evolving data as the COVID crisis continued.
According to the CDC, 166,203,176 Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. The White House said this accounts for more than half of the U.S. population
According to the CDC, 166,203,176 Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. The White House said this accounts for more than half of the U.S. population.
194,346,486 individuals have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The seven-day average of newly vaccinated people is up 11 percent from last week, and up 44 percent over the past two weeks.
President Joe Biden has been pressing hard for Americans to get vaccinated ever since he took office in January.
His aggressive vaccination program had raised hopes of a return to some semblance of normal life this summer, but the plan was hindered by the Delta variant.
In an increasingly assertive approach, the Biden administration recently asked all federal employees to get vaccinated or face COVID testing twice a week.
The president hinted Friday there would be further measures, saying, ‘There will be more to come in the days ahead.’
One possibility mentioned in press reports is pressuring nursing homes — a hotbed of deaths early in the pandemic — to force vaccinations among staff or risk losing public funding.
Daily new cases, deaths and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks. Last week, there was an average of 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with Florida and Texas accounting for a third of them, the White House said
The United States is back up to around 380 COVID-19 deaths a day, with hospitalizations averaging 7,300 a day over a week
Cities including New York and Los Angeles have imposed new restrictions, such as demanding proof of vaccination for entering indoor venues including restaurants and gyms.
Daily new cases, deaths and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks. Last week, there was an average of 90,000 new coronavirus cases per day, with Florida and Texas accounting for a third of them, the White House said.
The United States is back up to around 380 COVID-19 deaths a day, with hospitalizations averaging 7,300 a day over a week.
The level of community transmission of the virus is ‘high’ or ‘substantial’ in 85 percent of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The United States is the nation hardest-hit by the pandemic, with 615,000 deaths.