Dr Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that people will likely need a Covid-19 booster shot “within a year” of their first dose, as the US and the rest of the world continues to inoculate people with primary shots.
"I think we will almost certainly require a booster sometime within a year or so after getting the primary because the durability protection against coronavirus is generally not lifelong similar to measles," the chief medical adviser to the president said at an event.
There remains uncertainty around the timeline of any third booster shots for Covid, due to the lack of availability of data from studies.
Pfizer chief executive Albert Bourla said the third booster shot might be needed between eight and 12 months. "I believe in one, two months we will have enough data to speak about it with much higher scientific certainty," Mr Bourla said.
At least 37.8 per cent of the population in the US is now fully vaccinated, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 47.9 per cent of people have received at least one shot of Covid vaccine in the country which remains the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to vaccine makers, studies show their shots offer strong protection against the novel virus for about six months but not enough to last over a year. Experts are also tracking the new variants to know their impact on vaccines and immunity.
Dr Fauci clarified that the new federal guidelines about wearing masks were being “misinterpreted”. He said people are wrongly thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone.
“It’s an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors.”
The CDC on Thursday updated the guidelines on mask mandates, saying fully vaccinated Americans need not wear a mask indoors or outdoors with the exception of healthcare settings, homeless shelters, prison and jails and on public transportation.
Dr Fauci said that there would not be any need for variant-specific boosters. "Instead of having to play whack-a-mole with each individual variant and develop a booster that’s variant-specific, it is likely that you could just keep boosting against the wild type [original strain], and wind up getting a good enough response that you wouldn’t have to worry about the variants," he said.
The infectious disease expert said that children in the US will likely get vaccines by the end of 2021 or first quarter of 2022.
The US cleared the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15 after the vaccine maker said its 100 per cent effective in this age group.
In less than a week since it was cleared, more than 600,000 children in the 12 to 15 age group have been vaccinated and more than 4.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been vaccinated so far.
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