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FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee rejects Biden’s booster vaccination plan for the general population

Most of the experts on the panel voted against giving Pfizer recipients 16 and older a third chance. It’s another setback for President Joe Biden, who saw his approval rating for his handling of the pandemic drop below 50% for the first time this week in a poll.

The vote breaks the Biden administration’s plan to begin administering booster injections to the general population next week. While the FDA does not have to follow the panel’s recommendations, it generally does.

However, after the initial vote, the panel proposed an alternative scenario of administering third doses to people 65 and older, as well as people at high risk for severe COVID-19. The motion was approved unanimously. It’s unclear whether the more restricted proposal will get support from the FDA or the CDC’s vaccine advisory panel, which is scheduled to meet next week.

Committee members heard presentations from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials who said that coronavirus vaccines continue to maintain high protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death, but that the delta variant has Raised concerns that a booster dose might be necessary as protection against infection seems less in recent months.

They also heard from Israeli health officials who presented data in favor of a booster vaccine, saying it helped the country control a fourth wave of the virus.

But the panel expressed a desire for additional data, particularly on rare cases of cardiac inflammation in young people after the injection.

Pfizer has repeatedly argued that a third dose will be needed, while many experts have said that more data is needed to support the use of a booster injection. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on the administration of booster doses until 2021 to try to give low-income countries a chance to catch up on vaccination coverage.

While Biden’s booster plan originally applied to recipients of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, experts argued that there was not yet enough data to decide on a third dose of the Moderna vaccine. Similarly, Johnson & Johnson recipients will also have to wait for more data before they can recommend a second dose.

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