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Dr. Anthony Fauci believes Johnson & Johnson should have made their COVID-19 vaccine a two-dose shot and is encouraging Americans to get a booster for the one-jab vaccine as soon as it becomes available.
The immunologist issued the warning after a recent study found that the J&J shot’s protection fell from 88 per cent in March to just three per cent in August.
‘What the advisors to the FDA felt is that, given the data that they saw, very likely, this should have been a two dose vaccine to begin with,’ Fauci said during a Sunday morning interview on This Week ABC.
‘So the idea of making a recommendation that people who originally received J&J should receive a second dose — 18 or older with none of the restrictions about whether or not you’re at a high risk or not at a high risk — is that everyone who received that first dose of J&J who are 18 and older should receive it.’
His comments came just days after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee unanimously voted to recommend booster shots for adult J&J recipients.
Fauci notes, however, that Americans who got the one-dose shot should ‘feel good’ about the FDA recommendation and should get the jab as soon as possible.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has recommended that Americans who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine get a booster shot as soon as possible
He also confirmed that those who got the J&J jab could be better off by getting a booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which were proven to be more effective.
‘That is true, the data you refer to, that if you boost people who have originally received J&J with either Moderna or Pfizer, the level of antibodies that you induce in them is much higher than if you boost them with the original J&J,’ Fauci said.
‘However, you’re talking about laboratory data, which very often are reflective of what you would see clinically. But the data of boosting the J&J first dose with a J&J second dose is based on clinical data. So what’s going to happen is that the FDA is going to look at all those data, look at the comparison and make a determination of what they will authorize.’
He continued: ‘Once an authorization is made, then the ACIP — or the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — that advises the CDC will then make a recommendation of what people who have been receiving and have received the J&J should do.
‘So it’s going to be a process of authorization first and then a recommendation after considering all the data.’
Fauci predicts that the CDC and FDA advisory committee’s recommendations regarding whether or not J&J recipients should ‘mix and match’ booster shots ‘will likely give a degree of flexibility based on the individual situation’.
‘I think it’s going to be variable depending upon who you are. For example, a woman of childbearing age who’d would have almost no issues at all with a possible adverse event of myocarditis — which you see, rarely but you do see it with the mRNA vaccine — that person might want to opt for that approach,’ he stated.
‘If you’re a young man who does have that very, very rare risk of getting myocarditis, you might want to take the J&J route.’
His comments came just days after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee unanimously voted to recommend booster shots for adult J&J recipients
The advisory committee, made up of an array of public health experts, announced on Friday that all adults who were vaccinated with the one-dose vaccine get a second shot at least two months after their first.
One study, released Thursday but not peer-reviewed, tracked more than 620,000 military veterans who received the vaccine and found that protection fell from 88% in March to just 3% in August.
In comparison, Moderna’s vaccine effectiveness fell from 92% to 64% and Pfizer’s vaccine protection dropped from 91% to 50%.
Nearly 15 million Americans received the J&J vaccine, with nearly 91% of them having gotten the shot more than two months ago, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
COVID vaccine booster shots are being recommended even though cases of infections have been dropping after a summer surge caused by the Delta variant. Experts point to CDC data that shows unvaccinated adults are 11 times more likely to die of COVID than vaccinated adults.
‘J&J is a very good vaccine. I also believe it’s probably a two-shot vaccine,’ Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told CNN. ‘It’s really urgent that people get that second shot pretty quickly.
On Thursday, the FDA advisory committee recommended booster shots of Moderna to those over the age of 65 but the agency delayed its decision to authorize the COVID vaccine for teenagers and younger adults.
Fauci, addressing the need for boosters during his Sunday interview on ABC, said the timeline for authorization on the Moderna booster is ‘going to really depend on the data that comes in, because what we’re dealing with, we’re dealing with data rolling in in real time’.
He cited that in addition to the data collected by the CDC, researchers are also analyzing data from Israel because the country is ‘about a month or a month-and-a-half ahead of us temporally with their vaccination and with the data that their seeing about the waning of immunity as well as the advantage of boosting people at different age groups’.
The health expert claims that the data researchers are currently seeing from Israel indicates that even in somewhat younger populations, for example from ages 40 to 60, there is a ‘real benefit’ from getting the booster shot.
‘So, what we’ll be doing here in the United States both through the FDA and the CDC will be to follow these data as they accumulate in real time and any modification of the recommendations will be based on that data as they come in,’ he explained.
The FDA will now consider the advisory committee’s recommendations on the J&J and Moderna COVID booster shots to make an official decision.
If the FDA accepts the recommendation, which it is expected to do, booster shots could be made available as soon as next week.
The FDA previously authorized booster shots of the Pfizer COVID vaccine to those 65 years old and above or any adult who is considered ‘high-risk’ due to their living, work, or health conditions.
‘I think anybody who’s gotten one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can benefit from a second dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine,’ Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee told CNN.
He believes that the J&J vaccine would have been initially recommended as a two-dose vaccine if it had not been created in a time of such urgency.
The study of military veterans concluded that: ‘Vaccines remain the most important tool to prevent infection, severe illness, and death, but vaccines should be accompanied by additional measures, including masking, hand washing, physical distancing, and other public health interventions, in the face of increased risk of infection due to the Delta variant.’
Source: Daily Mail