Washington, Aug 18 (EFE).- The US government announced Wednesday that it intends to begin administering a third dose of two anti-Covid vaccines starting on Sept. 20 for those people who received their second injection eight months earlier.
Health authorities made the decision because it was recently determined that the effectiveness of the vaccines diminishes over time, a situation made more acute by the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the main spokesman for the government in the public health arena, emphasized that “if you’ve gotten both shots of your mRNA vaccine, you are fully vaccinated right now. You have (a) … high degree of protection against the worst outcomes of COVID-19.”
But he added that it’s probable that there is a decline in a person’s immunity over time due not only to the body’s diminishing immune response but also to the spread of the Delta variant.
Before launching this process, the third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must receive the green light from the Food and Drug Administration, the agency tasked with approving drugs, and from a scientific committee within the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
Even so, government experts expressed confidence that the move will receive approval very quickly and that third doses will begin to be administered on Sept. 20.
The first people who will be eligible to receive their third injection will be those who were vaccinated first in the US, that is, health care professionals and seniors living in retirement facilities.
Also eligible to receive their third dose will be all adults over age 18 who received the first two Pfizer or Moderna doses in the US.
The coordinator of the White House response to Covid-19, Jeff Zients, said at the same press conference that the plan is “simple.”
“We are not recommending that you go out and get a booster today. Instead, starting the week of Sept. 20, fully vaccinated adults can begin getting their booster shots eight months after their second shot of an mRNA vaccine,” he said.
Despite this decision, government experts emphasized that the available data confirms that the vaccines’ protection remains high against serious cases of Covid.
Yet, Murthy remarked that authorities had opted for recommending a third dose because they are concerned that the protection diminishes and ends up failing to guard as fully against serious infection.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that there are studies showing that the effectiveness of the vaccines decreases over time, citing several studies conducted in the US.
“We are concerned that the current strong protection against severe infection, hospitalzation and death could decrease in the months ahead, especially among those who are at high risk or who were vaccinated earlier,” Walensky said.
The government’s main epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also said that the level of antibodies in vaccinated people drops off over time.
The US is also anticipating that additional doses may need to be administered to those people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single injection.
In that regard, they said that the J&J vaccine didn’t start being administered in the US until March 2021, whereas the Pfizer vaccine was the first to receive official approval and began being administered in December 2020, and authorities are hoping to get more data in the coming weeks to help them decide whether or not a third J&J dose is warranted.
Currently, there are three vaccines that have received authorization for emergency use in the US: Pfizer, Moderna and J&J.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger-RNA (mRNA) technology, using a type of genetic code that the vaccine delivers to cells. That code serves as an instruction manual for the body’s immune system to learn how to recognize the coronavirus in the bloodstream and attack it.
Vaccines like J&J use an adenovirus, which is a “deactivated” virus that sends instructions to the vaccinated person’s body to combat Covid-19.