US set to approve third dose of Covid vaccine

Pfizer and Moderna have submitted early stage clinical trial data to the Food and Drug Administration as they seek authorisation for the third dose.

Fully vaccinated Americans will be able to receive a third shot by as early as mid-September, as the Biden administration looks to fast-track approval for Covid-19 booster shots.

An administration source told the New York Times it had decided to allow people to get their third shot eight months after they received their second.

The added protection is required to keep the surging Delta variant, which is far more infectious, in check as the effectiveness of the initial jabs wanes over time.

An announcement confirming the booster shots could come this week, the New York Times reported.

Anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine will also require a second shot. The Biden administration is said to be awaiting the results of a two-shot clinical trial currently underway.

The booster shot rollout will follow a similar path to the initial vaccine rollout, with nursing home residents, first responders and health workers prioritised.

Older Americans will again be near the front of the queue.

Last week, US regulators approved an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for people with compromised immune systems.

This included anyone who has received an organ transplant, treatment for cancer, or had immunodeficiency or HIV.

After initially succeeding in dampening down cases of Covid-19, the Biden administration has struggled as cases of the Delta variant exploded in states with low vaccination rates such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

There are concerns that the colder weather in fall and winter will bring even more favourable conditions for transmission, as people spend more time indoors.

Health officials are keeping a close eye on Israel, which is seeing signs that the Pfizer vaccine’s strength is waning among elderly people who had their second shot in January and February.

More than one million Israelis have already received a booster shot, just under half of their eligible population of those aged 50 and over.

Its government reports that the booster shot is showing strong signs of providing added protection against the Delta variant, which is surging in the country.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr Francis Collins said on Tuesday that data from Israel was forcing the US to rethink its strategy on booster shots.

“The people who got immunised in January are the ones that are now having more breakthrough cases,” Dr Collins said.

The decision by the US to offer a third shot goes against guidelines from The World Health Organisation, which begged wealthy countries to wait until first doses of vaccines had been offered to residents of developing nations.

Shares of Pfizer were up 3 per cent to $50.40 by the closing bell on Tuesday.

Moderna’s stock price soared 7.5 per cent to just under $402 in trading Tuesday.

About 60 per cent of the eligible population in the US are now fully vaccinated.

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