Many definitions have been put to the table to make individuals understand what exactly it is to be fully vaccinated against the faced pandemic Covid-19.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights it as a procedure that includes the vaccination of the third dose of vaccine. However, one might think that is it the ultimate definition that has been presented, or would it alter as time proceeds?
The answer has been deliberately presented on Squawk Box to CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He stated that it is a sensitive issue that would remain in discussions each time, and it is done for the businesses as it might be the need of the hour shortly.
Fauci further said that it is pretty clear that the most acceptable form of vaccination would be the one along with a booster. To achieve this ultimate protection goal, people should go for it if they think it is the only solution at hand.
Being ‘fully-vaccinated’ against the various variants of covid-19 offers a set of liberties to the Americans. It would serve as a license to go out for people of different age groups. For adults, it is a security that assures their work. For families, it is a visa that unravels their chances of traveling internationally. It acts as a certificate that permits them to attend school for children.
However, the current definition has faced severe criticism due to several shortcomings. In October, New York City Fire Department members staged a protest against the requests for vaccines required for city workers. The same was done in June by the workers of Houston Methodist Hospital.
But what could be done now to undermine the faced challenges? Can it clarify the answers by altering the challenges that pay heed to them?
Altering the definition is an arduous task
‘Fully vaccinated’ is defined by the CDC’s interim clinical considerations as the one with accomplished dual vaccination doses of Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna or a single shot of Johnson Johnson.
Last week, the CDC’s website highlighted that the booster dose should not be considered a must as it might not be suitable for public health.
Previously, Dr. Sott Gotteib, a former FDA commissioner, on Squawk Box told CNBC’s Rebecca Quick that the states, local jurisdictions, and private ventures could present varying definitions of being fully vaccinated before the federal government. The one among them is to have the inclusion of a booster dose.
Gotteib further added that though the states face a more challenging fully vaccinated time, booster inoculation should be authorized urgently based on its need and hoped that the FDA would approve it sooner. As the federal government faces many hurdles in legalizing the booster, it might not be licensed till the following year.
In the future, the definition of “fully vaccinated” could change for two reasons. The FDA, as a first step, might approve a vaccine or amend an emergency use authorization (EUA) if vaccine makers are seeking approval. A second reason may be that Johnson & Johnson, one of the leading vaccine manufacturers in the United States, is seeking to get their vaccines approved or that they are modifying their EUAs so that they can move from a single dose to two doses of their vaccine.
FDA has approved only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the United States. Until recently, labeling was limited to a two-dose primary series; however, Nancy Allen LaPointe, a health professor at Duke University, recently noted that it could eventually extend labeling to a three-dose series based on submitted data.
As far as all vaccine products and their uses are concerned, the EUAs already cover the authorizations for booster doses for all adults (including Pfizer boosters for 16 and 17 years). LaPointe added that the CDC could revise its guidance further to encourage boosters more decisively as more data becomes available.
In the case of the CDC, they can revise recommendations but must adhere to the constraints of the EUAs and the biologics license applications (BLAs). In addition, she said that our understanding of this disease might lead to the recommendation of evolving as time goes on. In terms of vaccination schedules, everyone is going through the process at a different pace, so we do not know whether or not additional booster doses will be needed.
The CDC stands by its definition of “full vaccination.”
Physicians and scientists are calling on the Biden administration to change vaccination guidelines for the U.S., stating that people should be considered fully vaccinated for more than six months since completing their second dose.
During his appearance on CNN’s Pamela Brown on Saturday morning, CNN medical analyst Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said the government should extend the window to four months and allow people who are four months away from the second next shot to receive an additional shot to be boosted.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky declined to provide specific details on whether or when the agency would change the definition of “fully vaccinated” during a White House briefing Wednesday, saying that data is being evaluated and recommendations will be updated “as necessary.”
To CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Walensky said the definition is currently two doses of an mRNA vaccine and a single dose of the J&J vaccine. Walensky said, “We will continue to follow this science, and it is literally evolving daily.” He added, “We will keep reviewing the data as it evolves, updating our recommendations accordingly.”
Booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine may help improve protection against the Omicron mutant, and there is no need for a mutant-specific booster dose at this time, Forch said in the same briefing.
According to Dr. Fauci, the Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine provides significantly lower protection against symptomatic Omicron infection than the Delta variant. Still, a booster dose increases the efficacy against Omicron to 75%. Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell on Wednesday: “I’ve always said this is a three-dose vaccine.”
Hotez explained that it is because, after the third dose, the number of virus-neutralizing antibodies increases by 30 to 40 times. As a result, there is more spillover protection against new variants, including Omicron. So in this way, the third dose protects against symptomatic illness for 70% to 75%.
According to University of Minnesota professor Michael Osterholm, who spoke with CNN’s John King, the definition of being “fully vaccinated” may change shortly. We now understand why the booster is so essential. It can affect the severity of an illness caused by either Delta or Omicron. The booster helps prevent disease, and it’s only a matter of time before the recommendation for boosters changes.