President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser sought to dismiss concerns Sunday over whether the White House’s vocal embrace of Covid-19 boosters had any influence over the regulatory process.
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“I don’t think there’s any a political issue there; I think it’s just public health data and evidence,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s independent vaccine advisory committee last week voted to recommend additional doses for cohorts of those who received vaccines produced by either Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
The panel’s recommendations are not binding, and differed somewhat between the two products. The Moderna vaccine, like a similar one made jointly by Pfizer-BioNTech, was a two-dose schedule whereas J&J was a single shot.
Some of the experts on the FDA’s outside panel were troubled by the amount of data — or lack thereof — presented by the companies in order to form their recommendations this week, though those qualms did not ultimately stand in the way of them backing the boosters.
Fauci told host Chris Wallace that data gathered in the United States and elsewhere, primarily Israel, point toward the need for booster shots to ward against waning protection against the deadly coronavirus. He said that a top priority remains trying to convince the tens of millions of people in the country who are eligible to get the vaccine but have not yet done so to get a shot.
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“As we have seen in the past with other waves that we’ve been through, there’s the danger of resurgence,” Fauci said.
Fauci also declined to directly confront opposition from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican elected officials regarding vaccination requirements imposed by the government or private companies. However, he did offer that “from a public health standpoint, that is really unfortunate.”
He said he understood where these officials are coming from in terms of being wary of encroaching on individual liberty and autonomy, “but when you’re in a public health crisis, sometimes unusual situations require unusual actions.”
“We’re not living in a vacuum as individuals. We’re living in a society and society needs to be protected,” Fauci said.