WASHINGTON (The Hill) — White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci on Sunday said health officials will “have to deal with it” if it is determined that another COVID-19 booster shot is necessary to protect against the virus, but said he is hoping that additional jabs will not be needed due to protection from initial booster shots.
“If it becomes necessary to get yet another boost, then we’ll just have to deal with it when that occurs, but I’m hoping from an immunological standpoint that that third shot of an mRNA and the second shot of a J&J will give a much greater durability of protection than just the six months or so that we’re seeing right now,” Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”
Fauci also said it is “tough to tell” if a yearly COVID-19 booster shot will be needed, noting that a third jab could increase the durability of protection and potentially stave off the need for another shot. “The third shot of an mRNA could not only do what we absolutely know it does, is it dramatically increased the level of protection, but from an immunological standpoint, it could very well increase the durability of protection,” he said.
“You don’t know that, George, until you just follow it over a period of months,” he added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened its recommendation late last month, urging all individuals ages 18 and older to get a booster shot six months after they finished their initial Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series, or two months after they received their first Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pointed to the new omicron variant as a reason why booster shots are particularly important. While health experts are still gathering key information on the new strain, it is clear that it has a high number of mutations.
Officials are now working to determine its severity and if it evades already existing vaccines. The CDC on Thursday signed off on Pfizer’s booster shot for 16- and 17-year-olds who received their second jab at least six months ago. More than 52.9 million individuals in the U.S. have received a booster shot, according to the CDC’s vaccine tracker, which is 26.2% of the population of people who are fully vaccinated.