Some controversy erupted this week over whether a COVID booster would be brought to market. Pfizer and German vaccine developer BioNTech announced they would approach the FDA for approval of a booster focused on the delta variant.
Booster shots are additional doses of a vaccine that re-expose us to a disease or variant, renewing one’s immunity to that disease. In this case, Pfizer is working on a booster which would specifically generate immunity to the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2, a highly contagious and even more deadly subtype of the virus which is thought to be circulating widely in the US.
The FDA and CDC have issued an early response to media reports, asserting that all three available vaccines in the US, the Pfizer, Moderna and the J&J vaccines, are effective against the delta variant.
The concern is due to the highly contagious and dangerous repercussions of the delta variant of COVID-19. Areas where vaccination rates are low are experiencing surges in the numbers of infected and hospitalized. This is especially true of children under the age of 12, who are unable to receive the vaccine currently. In Mississippi, the Director of The Department of Health and Human Services shared concerns of a surge in extremely ill children, including an increase in the number of children requiring life support. Prior to the advancement of the delta variant, most children had experienced a milder course of the illness compared to adults, excluding those that develop a rare illness associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection called Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome, (MIS-C).
So does the Pfizer booster work?
There is some data to show an increase in measurable antibody levels to the delta variant and SARS-CoV-2 after a booster, but it is not yet known IF this results in greater immunity compared to those with 2 doses. Israel, who is currently giving Pfizer booster will provide more data to Pfizer, so that this can be further evaluated.
Thus, the jury is out on whether a booster shot will be warranted or available. It is important to remember that currently your protection against this virus is to get a vaccine, any vaccine.
As per Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, the Director of Buncombe County Health and Human Services, “Statewide, NC is experiencing increasing trends in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions for COVID-19, percent positivity and the percent of emergency department visits that are for COVID-like illness. Currently, almost all viral transmission at the local, state, and national levels is occurring in unvaccinated people. Preliminary analysis by NCDHHS has found that from May 6th-June 28th of this year, North Carolinians who were not fully vaccinated accounted for approximately 99% of NC’s COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”
“Buncombe County Health and Human Services continues to offer all three vaccines at its building at 40 Coxe Ave. in downtown Asheville. The clinic is open Mon-Fri from 9a-4p to walk-ins. All three vaccines are available daily.”