2021-09-19 22:40:14 Fauci Urges Americans Not to Get Boosters Before They Are Eligible

Fauci Urges Americans Not to Get Boosters Before They Are Eligible

The nation’s top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, defended President Biden’s decision last month to announce the availability of Covid booster shots before regulators had weighed in, and he urged vaccinated Americans to wait until they were eligible for an extra shot before getting one.

Dr. Fauci’s comments on three Sunday morning news shows came after a vote Friday by an FDA advisory panel recommending that those who received the Pfizer vaccine get a booster dose if they are over 65 or are at high risk of developing severe Covid-19. The panel’s recommendation was a more limited plan than one announced by Mr. Biden earlier this summer, in which he stated that beginning Sept. 20, all Americans who had been fully vaccinated would be eligible for booster shots eight months after their last dose.

Members of the panel decided that there was not yet enough evidence to recommend the extra shots for younger, healthier people, despite evidence that the vaccine continues to protect against severe disease and death in that group.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a decision on boosters in the coming days. It usually follows the advice of its advisory committees, but it is not required to.

The debate over boosters has occurred during a relentless surge of the extremely transmissible Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 99 percent of cases tracked in the country, according to CDC data. While hospitalizations and new cases have begun to decline gradually, deaths have surpassed 2,000 per day for the first time since March 1, according to a New York Times database. Vaccinations have been shown to protect against Delta-caused severe illness.

Mr. Biden’s announcement alarmed F.D.A. regulators because it came before the agency had evaluated the data on whether the shots were necessary. Two top vaccine officials quickly announced their departure from the agency this fall, citing the issue as one of the reasons.

Dr. Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Mr. Biden “wasn’t getting ahead of the science,” noting that the president had always stated that the plan was subject to FDA approval.

“I think people don’t understand the difference between planning for something and actually deciding what component of that, what proportion of it, you’re going to roll out,” he said. “And that is exactly what occurred.”

Dr. Fauci also urged Americans to be patient and wait until they are eligible for an additional shot, noting that data on whether an additional shot of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines was required would be available in a matter of weeks.

“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the FDA so they can examine it and decide on the boosters for those people,” he said. “By no means are they falling behind.”

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Fauci Urges Americans Not to Get Boosters Before They Are Eligible