Former FDA commissioner: COVID vaccine booster mixed messaging is a ‘misstep’

Nov 15, 2021, 10:59 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2021, 9:17 am
COVID booster...
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Taken from Monday’s edition of Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering broadening eligibility for adults to receive booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine after a request from Pfizer to do so. That request comes on the heels of the FDA’s decision in September to reject Pfizer booster doses for most adult Americans under the age of 65.

Now, the FDA is once again going to look at the data to determine if booster shots are both safe and effective for the populations that are not currently eligible. That authorization could come later in November once the request filed earlier in the month is reviewed.

“What’s really at the heart of this vaccine strategy is to create safer workplaces for workers, customers, and to increase vaccination rates overall,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said in an appearance on Fox News. “Ultimately, that’s how we’re going to end this pandemic, and that’s our collectively shared goal as a country.”

COVID cases continue to surge across the country. As the U.S. heads into the holiday season, three states — California, Colorado, and New Mexico — are allowing all adults who want them to get boosters.

Jodie Guest, professor and vice chair of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, told CBS News that she is in favor of broadening access to boosters. All three of the states that have broadened their booster eligibility have very fast increasing rates of COVID-19.

“As we go into the holiday season where we know more people are going to be getting together, and more people are going to be inside, I don’t think that it is unreasonable to say anyone 18 and older can get a booster in these states with very high spread of COVID-19,” Guest said.

Once again, we’re seeing an uptick in COVID cases. The total number of new COVID-19 cases for the week that ended Nov. 7 nationwide was listed at about 511,000, up 1% from the previous week.

As of yesterday, per capita cases were up the most in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska and Kansas. They dropped the most in Nevada, Louisiana, Arkansas and Idaho. Here in Washington state, we saw a 4.2% increase in the number of cases.

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb thinks that everyone who’s at the six-month point from their second vaccine should get a booster.

“The confusing message around the boosters may end up being one of the biggest missed opportunities in this pandemic,” Gottlieb told CBS. “We have to look at the immunity in terms of not just how many people have been vaccinated, but the depth of immunity. How many people have a lot of residual immune protection against this virus and are going to be what we call a dead end host?”

“The fastest way to turn someone into a dead end host, someone who cannot catch and spread this virus, is to get them fully vaccinated.”

That’s our goal now: to become a dead end host so that your body is where the virus goes to die.

“When we look back, this may be a very big missed opportunity to try to get ahead of this delta wave. This is the fastest way that we can increase the total immunity in the population.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

This article originally attributed a quote from Dr. Scott Gottlieb to Dave Ross, today’s date: Nov. 16

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Former FDA commissioner: COVID vaccine booster mixed messaging is a ‘misstep’