FDA adviser says young, healthy people shouldn’t get latest COVID boosters

A Food and Drug Administration vaccine adviser questions whether young, healthy people should receive new COVID-19 boosters, arguing that these vaccines should be used for older people.

“I think we should stop trying to prevent all symptomatic infections in healthy young people by boosting them with vaccines containing mRNA from strains that might disappear a few months later,” wrote Dr. Paul A. Offit, FDA Vaccine Panel Advisor and Professor. of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 11.

In his article, Offit cited two studies suggesting bivalent boosters, which target the original COVID-19 strain and two Omicron BA.4 and BA subvariants. 5, do not “elicit superior immune responses”.

“Why did the strategy of significantly increasing neutralizing antibodies BA.4 and BA.5 using a bivalent vaccine fail?” He asked. “The most likely explanation is imprinting. The immune systems of people immunized with the bivalent vaccine, all of whom had previously been vaccinated, were primed to respond to the ancestral strain of SARS-CoV-2. So they likely responded to epitopes shared by BA.4 and BA.5 and the ancestral strain, rather than new epitopes on BA.4 and BA.5.

Offit noted that based on these studies, “boostering with a bivalent vaccine is likely to have a similar effect to a boostering with a monovalent vaccine,” but stressed that “boostering the dosage is probably better reserved for those most likely to need protection against serious illnesses.”

Another doctor seemed to agree with Offit’s conclusions regarding the “fingerprint”. Dr. Amesh Adalja, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told US News that “it may be that people’s immune systems are so primed to respond to the ancestral strain’s spike protein that a booster reformulated is not able to fully stimulate the immune system because it has been “imprinted” by the original version of the virus”.

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Data and studies have shown that the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization and death. Meanwhile, children have been shown to have the lowest risk of death, hospitalization or developing severe symptoms since the start of the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA said everyone over 6 months old receives updated boosters at least two months after their last vaccine doses. Bivalent boosters were authorized for emergencies for children aged 6 months to 4 years on December 9.

Epoch Times Photo
This photo shows a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Bivalent, at the AltaMed Medical clinic in Los Angeles, Calif., on Oct. 6, 2022. (Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, a small number of Americans have received the updated boosters, according to the CDC. As of January 4, around 15% of people aged 5 and over had received bivalent vaccines, while around 38% of adults aged 65 and over had received them.

That same CDC data also shows that about 80.9% of all Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since its launch two years ago, while 69% have completed their first “series.” primary”.

An FDA spokeswoman, Abigail Capobianco, responded to Offit’s article this week, telling NBC News that Offit allegedly used “selective” data to reach her conclusions and that “we strongly believe that the totality of available evidence continues to support the use of these vaccines in all cases.” age groups.”

“Dr. Offit is entitled to his opinion on the effectiveness of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines used as boosters,” Capobianco also said.

Earlier this week, Offit told CNN that the CDC and FDA said they hadn’t received actual data on the bivalent booster’s ability to block virus transmission until those boosters were approved by the authorities. federal agencies. The data showed that about 1.9% of people who received the first booster were infected, compared to 3.2% who received the bivalent vaccine, CNN reported.

“I was angry to find out there was data relevant to our decision that we weren’t able to see,” Offit told CNN. “Decisions that are made for the public must be made based on all available information – not just some information, but all information.”

The FDA’s vaccine panel is scheduled to meet Jan. 26 to determine future vaccination schedules to fight COVID-19.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Moderna and Pfizer for comment.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for the New York-based Epoch Times. He covers the news.

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