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US FDA panel backs COVID-19 booster dose for elderly, high risk groups

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-18 09:52

An ederly patient receives the 3rd dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine in Paris, on Sept 13, 2021. France decided to offer a Covid booster shots to the elderly and vulnerable from September. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - An advisory panel for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed on Friday a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine six months after full vaccination in people 65 and older and for individuals at high risk for severe disease.

The decision came after members of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted against advising the agency to approve boosters for anyone 16 and older after hours of debate.

Members of the committee expressed doubts about the safety of a booster dose in younger adults and teens, and said they wanted to see more data about the safety and long term efficacy of a booster dose.

A decision about boosters from the FDA is expected in the next few days.

An advisory panel for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also scheduled to meet next week on how to apply the FDA's eventual decision and can fine-tune the recommendation.

President Joe Biden's administration have recently announced a plan to begin administering booster doses to the general population during the week of Sept. 20, pending sign-offs from the FDA and CDC.

The CDC published data on Friday showing that all three COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States - from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson - still provide strong protection against hospitalization.

Moderna's vaccine provided 93 percent protection against hospitalization, Pfizer's was 88 percent effective and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine was 71 percent, said the CDC study.

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