BioNTech asked U.S. regulators on Tuesday to approve an extra booster dose of their COVID-19 vaccine for seniors. The companies said Israeli data suggests that people over 65 would benefit from a fourth dose. The CDC and the FDA would need to approve the request.
The U.S. proposes a primary sequence followed months later by a booster dose for everyone age 12 and older. While coronavirus cases have decreased since the winter’s omicron surge, with the agents and state and local governments moving to facilitate pandemic restrictions, public health leaders warn that the world must remain vigilant and continue to use the tools that protect against the virus and potential new variants.
Pfizer also cited “emerging evidence” and data from Kaiser Permanente in southern California, which “suggests that effectiveness against both symptomatic COVID-19 and severe disease caused by omicron wanes 3 to 6 months after receipt of an initial booster (third) dose.” Although authorities say vaccinations continue to offer protection against severe illness, they haven’t held up as well against milder infections – especially those due to the omicron mutant. However, scientists say now that most Americans will eventually be infected and that the ultimate goal of vaccination is to prevent severe illness.