The US health authorities gave the green light, on Friday, November 19, to a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for all adults fully vaccinated at least six months ago.
The United States Drug Agency (FDA) has indicated that this emergency use authorization is helping to “provide continued protection against Covid-19, including against serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization or death.” This decision “comes at a critical time as we enter the winter months and we are facing an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country,” Moderna chief Stéphane Bancel said.
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People 18 years of age and older who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine in the United States were already entitled to a second dose, two months after the injection.
For those vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna, the third dose was previously reserved only for certain categories of the population: older than 65 years, adults at risk of developing a severe form of the disease, or those highly exposed to the virus due, for example, to his work.
Stopping the disease before the holidays
An advisory committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met at noon on Friday to discuss this widespread recall and streamlined its recommendations, later signed by the director of this agency, Rochelle Walensky.
According to the experts of this committee, people immunized with a messenger RNA vaccine aged 50 years or older “should” receive a booster dose, while those between 18 and 50 years “may” benefit if they wish.
According to experts at the CDC, the measure may slow the transmission of the disease as the Christmas season approaches. Some even considered it possible that these vaccines could be considered in the future as three doses from the start.
The United States authorizes from the end of October the “mixtures” of vaccines for the booster dose. Therefore, Americans can choose a different vaccine from their initial series for this new injection.
At least 31 million people have already received a booster dose in the United States, of which about half (17 million) are 65 or older. In practice, the vast majority of people vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna kept the same vaccine for the third dose, while the majority of people who received a first dose of “J&J” switched to their booster dose.
According to a CDC presentation, side effects after a third dose were somewhat less common than after the second dose.
85,000 daily cases
This announcement comes in the context of a resumption of the epidemic in the United States, with an average of 85,000 new cases of Covid-19 daily (up from about 70,000 at the end of October) and around 1,000 deaths daily.
Some US states, including California, had already started authorizing booster doses for all adults, even before health agency recommendations, in hopes of containing the spread of the epidemic before the holidays.
In October, Pfizer reported the results of a clinical trial involving 10,000 people showing that a booster dose of the vaccine was 95.6% effective against symptomatic forms of the disease. Moderna’s efficacy results are still pending, but one study showed that a booster dose increased antibody levels.
For Pfizer-BioNTech, the booster dose is the same (30 micrograms), while for Moderna, the booster is actually half a dose (50 micrograms vs 100 for the initial two injections).
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