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New Covid Booster

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Pfizer and Moderna Are Pushing the New Covid Booster. Should You Get It? The CDC Is About to Decide.

A small percentage of Americans have received the latest Covid-19 booster shot and are even less likely to realize that the federal government is preparing to recommend another shot as early as Tuesday.

Just a week or two ago, William Schaffner read that the apathy was a sign that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should advocate vaccinating only those most at risk from the virus.

But Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, changed his mind.New Covid Booster

New Covid Booster

He said in an interview that members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convinced him by arguing that the vaccine should be recommended for all Americans over 6 months of age. The committee, which sets US vaccination policy and helps determine vaccine coverage, will vote on the issue on Tuesday as it weighs the benefits of the updated vaccines. Updated from Pfizer and Moderna. The FDA, an affiliated agency of the CDC, approved the use of two booster shots on Monday.

Not all vaccine experts consider him Schaffner, the non-voting liaison to ACIP. New Covid Booster

“I have no plans to get vaccinated myself,” said Paul Offit, 72, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He had two recalls and contracted Covid last year. Offit believes another vaccine could boost his protection against mild infections for a few months, but like most Americans’ immune systems, he’s gotten used to the virus. New Covid Booster This is to protect him from serious illness.

Some of Schaffner’s scientific colleagues argue the government should be recommending the shot only for frail, older, sick, and immunocompromised people. Over 95% of the U.S. population are already covid-immunized through vaccination, infection, or both, and the risks of serious illness for healthy younger people are not great. New Covid Booster

Schaffner doesn’t disagree. But lots of not-necessarily-vulnerable Americans do want the shot for themselves and their children, and, without a CDC recommendation, insurance companies wouldn’t have to pay for the vaccine.

It’s “pretty awful” that Pfizer and Moderna, the two main covid vaccine producers, have decided to charge up to $130 a shot, compared with $30 last year for the booster, which was produced under government contract, said Kathryn Edwards, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt and a member of an ACIP working group on covid. (Pfizer spokeswoman Amy Rose said the price is “in line with the value delivered” and reflects the higher cost of delivering the vaccine commercially.)

But the partial recommendation could prevent groups that have suffered the most during the pandemic — minorities and other disadvantaged groups — from getting vaccinated if they want to but can’t afford it.

“The last thing we need are financial barriers that could increase disparities,” Schaffner said.

The 1993 law required the federal government to pay for pediatric vaccines recommended by ACIP, and the more recent law requires coverage of adult vaccines within 15 days of ACIP recommendation. New Covid Booster

Pfizer and Moderna continue to make billions of dollars selling Covid vaccines, even as they produce fewer doses. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel told investors in August that the company expected global Covid vaccine sales to reach between $6 billion and $8 billion this year, depending into application in the United States. Pfizer expects to reach about $14 billion this year. New Covid Booster Within the next few years, the two companies plan to produce a combination vaccine that protects against influenza, Covid and possibly respiratory syncytial virus. About 170 million flu vaccines were distributed during last year’s flu season in the United States, so a combination product could also capture the large market for Covid vaccines.

New Covid Booster

Despite widespread recommendations for an updated Covid booster vaccine released last fall, only 17% of the US population received it — and about 43% of people over 65 age or older. It is unclear how many people will be vaccinated this season, nor what the vaccine’s benefits will be. A study of the new Moderna vaccine shows that it increases antibodies against various strains of the virus, although it’s unclear how much protection against the disease there is or for how long. John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, said the new vaccine is unlikely to be a “game changer.” For healthier adults and children, “that’s an increase in protection over several months,” Moore said. It is impossible to predict who will benefit the most, since the United States is “not a stereotypical population.” The country’s people have now been exposed to a surprising combination of vaccines, booster shots and different strains of the virus. Christopher Ridley, a Moderna spokesman, said the updated vaccine is well suited to current virus strains, adding: “We encourage people to get their Covid vaccine when they get their flu shot annual. »

Fear-mongering has distorted the threat of the virus, Moore said. He was skeptical about the significance of the recent surge in Covid-related hospitalizations and criticized social media posters raising concerns about new strains of the virus that did not appear to pose a challenge basic for new vaccines. “The FOMO editorial sparked increased concerns over the summer,” Moore said, using the acronym for “fear of missing out.” New Covid Booster Despite worrying comments and tweets from doctors like Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Institute, about a new Covid variant called BA.2.86, “it turned out to be nothing,” Moore said. “.

Even Ashish Jha, who coordinated the Biden administration’s epidemic response until returning to his position as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health this year, agrees that there are some dream spots. lake in question. If he recommended that 20-year-olds should benefit from enhancement, “a reasonable person” would probably disagree. New Covid Booster

Unfortunately, such discussions in today’s environment are clouded by “meaningless and bad information” that leaves people confused and hurt, he said in a recent podcast interview.

Whether truly needed or not, the vaccines, proponents say, are safe enough that even the small benefit of taking them will outweigh the risks. The major, though rare, serious side effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines — myocarditis, which particularly affected men in their teens and 20s — appears mainly to have occurred during the first two-shot series. New Covid Booster

Paradoxically, those who most need protection from covid are often likely to have weakened immune systems that fail to generate the hoped-for response to vaccination. New Covid Booster

So the vaccine is arguably most relevant for healthy people who come in frequent contact with vulnerable individuals. With that in mind, England has announced the new booster would be offered only to people who are 65 or older, in nursing homes, or immunologically vulnerable — or who work or live with members of those groups. New Covid Booster

“Any efforts to promote the new boosters should focus squarely on those at high risk,” said Norman Hearst, a family physician in San Francisco. While recommending the vaccine for older patients, he said he wouldn’t advise a booster for young males because of the rare risk of myocarditis and the negligible benefit. “The question is all the other people in between.” New Covid Booster

In a commentary last November, infectious disease doctors Shira Doron and Monica Gandhi said vaccination campaigns should be radically honest about the limited value of vaccines for long-term protection against infection. Such a campaign might advocate vaccinating children because even though it won’t protect durably, “it might prevent the rare case of severe disease.”

Meanwhile, the vaccine makers have their own plans for publicizing the vaccines. In its call with investors last month, Moderna said it was focused on increasing sales and solidifying Moderna’s market share with branded promotion. Its “awareness campaigns” will tout ACIP recommendations and “connect covid-19 with seasonal flu vaccines with the goal to drive consumers to get vaccinated this fall,” a company official said.

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Moderna is co-sponsoring tennis’ U.S. Open this year and aired a video at the event Sept. 8 honoring Arthur Ashe, the only Black man to win Grand Slam titles, whom it credited with helping destigmatize HIV by revealing he had the virus. New Covid Booster

The video presentation suggested that Moderna, like Ashe, has done well by being bold. New Covid Booster

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