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Will COVID-19 Vaccines Need a Booster? CDC Will Meet to Decide

The data is still not in on whether booster shots against COVID-19 will be necessary. The disease has only been around for slightly over a year, and the vaccines for five or six months. Drug companies have been suggesting that booster shots will be necessary, particularly with the rise of more infectious variants, such as those originating in South Africa and the U.K.

Clinical studies of booster shots are already ongoing. Nonetheless, it’s still not known just how long the protection from vaccines lasts. But drug companies are not the decision-makers for this.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Processes plans to meet and make a recommendation to the CDC on booster shots. Those conversations, however, have not yet begun.

William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told ABC News, “The ACIP is dealing with a whole lot of other issues at the present time, and has not begun really a serious discussion of boosters.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also involved in that analysis and decision. It has already updated its COVID-19 emergency use authorization (EUA) guidance for vaccine developers that want to address new variants.

An FDA spokesperson stated, “We want the American public to know that the FDA is using every tool in our toolbox to fight this pandemic, including pivoting as the virus adapts and we remain committed to getting these life-saving products to the frontlines.”

There is a reasonable amount of skepticism when vaccine manufacturers discuss booster shots, since they have raked in huge and unexpected amounts of money so far for the vaccines. In the first-quarter, Pfizer-BioNTech’s global vaccine sales were $5.833 billion and Moderna’s were $1.733 billion. Johnson & Johnson, late to the market and paused over safety issues, reported $100 million in U.S. sales for the quarter.

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