Experts Anticipate COVID-19 Boosters To Be Recommended 8 Months Following Second Dose

An announcement from CDC officials recommending COVID-19 boosters for all adults could come as soon as this week, although doses would only be widely administered once the FDA formally approved the vaccines.

Amid mounting questions about the need for COVID-19 booster shots, health experts are expected to announce that boosters are recommended for all US adults 8 months following their second dose, according to reporting by the Associated Press.1

Manufacturers of the 3 currently available vaccines have already begun development of these shots, and Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted initial data to the FDA supporting their booster dose. According to a Pfizer press release, phase 1 safety and immunogenicity data in individuals who received a third dose showed robust immune responses.2

Furthermore, researchers found significantly higher neutralizing antibody titers against the wild type SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the Beta and Delta variants, compared to the levels observed after the 2-dose series. Based on these findings, the press release said a booster dose administered between 6 and 12 months after the primary vaccinations could help maintain protection against COVID-19.2

“The data we’ve seen to date suggest a third dose of our vaccine elicits antibody levels that significantly exceed those seen after the two-dose primary schedule,” said Albert Bourla, DVM, PhD, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, in the press release. “We are pleased to submit these data to the FDA as we continue working together to address the evolving challenges of this pandemic.”2

Officials with the CDC have already recommended that immunocompromised individuals should receive additional doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines because they are at a greater risk of serious, prolonged illness. This recommendation is based on data that found some immunocompromised individuals do not build the same level of immunity following vaccination and may benefit from an additional dose.3

If booster shots for the wider public are recommended, the Associated Press report said health care workers, nursing home residents, and other older Americans would be the first to receive them, in addition to those who are immunocompromised.1 The announcement from CDC officials could come as soon as this week, although doses would only be widely administered once the FDA formally approved the vaccines. That approval is expected for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks.1

Reducing infection rates is particularly important as the Delta variant surges and as flu season approaches, according to the Pfizer press release.

“This initial data indicate that we may preserve and even exceed the high levels of protection against the wild-type virus and relevant variants using a third dose of our vaccine,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, in the press release. “A booster vaccine could help reduce infection and disease rates in people who have previously been vaccinated and better control the spread of virus variants during the coming season.”2

REFERENCE

1. Miller Z. Sources: US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters at 8 months. Associated Press; August 17, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/business-health-coronavirus-pandemic-coronavirus-vaccine-21cd829d358e9b50b16515025dab2008

2. Pfizer and BioNTech Announce Submission of Initial Data to US FDA To Support Booster Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine. Press release. Pfizer; August 16, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2021. https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-and-biontech-announce-submission-initial-data-us-fda

3. CDC. COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People. Updated August 16, 2021. Accessed August 17, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html