The three data sets are said to include 10 million vaccinated New Yorkers, data from long-term care facilities, and data from a group of 21 hospitals.
The official cautioned that while the data suggests decreased protection against infection, it’s still believed there has not been a decline in protection against hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
The official also cautioned that the US Food and Drug Administration would still need to carefully review safety data to ensure there was no danger from “hyperimmune response” from a third dose. So far, only Pfizer has submitted such data for review.
The senior official said eventual booster shots were “always the expectation.”
CNN reported earlier this week that the Biden administration was shaping a plan for most Americans to get Covid-19 booster shots eight months after becoming fully vaccinated.
One source said the plan, which is still being developed, would involve administering third shots beginning in mid- to late September, pending FDA authorization.
Last week, the FDA authorized third doses for some people who are immunocompromised and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention almost immediately recommended giving those doses.
But federal health officials and agencies have maintained so far that boosters are not needed by the general population.
“FDA, CDC, and NIH are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider when boosters might be necessary,” FDA spokesperson Abigail Capobianco said in a response to CNN onTuesday. “This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data, and cohort data — which can include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but does not rely on those data exclusively. We continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed.”
Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert and adviser to the FDA, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday that the US needs clear data from the CDC to support the need for Covid-19 vaccine boosters for the general public.
“It is frustrating,” Offit said. “You would like to think that the data would come first and then the recommendation would come second, because right now, we’re all guessing what’s going on.”
Offit noted that just days ago, the CDC presented data showing that Covid-19 vaccines still protect against severe disease. In a call with clinicians on Tuesday afternoon, CDC officials said the timing of a booster dose of coronavirus vaccine has not yet been determined.
“What I hope doesn’t happen is that we are seeing the sort of fading in immunity against asymptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection, because that has to happen at some level,” Offit said. “The goal is to protect against severe, critical disease. To date, it appears the vaccines were doing it.”
Other experts have also cast doubt on whether booster shots are needed, saying it’s far more important for more people to be fully vaccinated in the first place.
“If you think a third dose of the vaccine is going to end the pandemic, then you are kidding yourself,” Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN. “The way to end this pandemic is to get the vaccine distributed across the globe.”