In the United States, the answer to this question is falling. And by all indications it will be positive. Everything indicates that they will authorize booster dose for recipients of vaccines Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as they did with Pfizer a few weeks ago.
It is what the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is in right now that, according to The New York Times, plans to allow the third dose of the vaccine to be administered with the same brand or with another different.
According to the prestigious newspaper, the FDA would not recommend one vaccine over another, and although it seems likely that it will advise repeat with the same when possible, it will allow freedom of choice.
And it will be the people in charge of administering the vaccines who will be able to make the decision to offer a different brand as long as they consider it better, as health officials have been asking for weeks.
Modern the Pfizer, on Johnson & Johnson
The decision is the result of the results of a study on the combination of different vaccines that was presented last Friday.
In it, research conducted by an expert committee advising the FDA found that recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (unit dose) who received a Moderna’s booster saw their antibody levels rise 76 times in 15 days. Much more than the 4-fold increase after an additional dose of Johnson & Johnson.
And the same thing happens with Moderna happens with Pfizer. The study found that it also raises antibodies more than repeating with the same Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although less than with Moderna.
Research still scarce, but important
Tomorrow it is possible that the FDA will authorize the boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines (Pfizer was already approved), while admitting the possibility of a third dose with a different brand.
And that, despite the fact that some experts consider that the data is still scarce to draw firm conclusions, since the studies were carried out with small groups of volunteers and in the short term.
This is another of the problems that they encounter, since the short term is limited to talking about the production of antibodies and does not consider the levels of immune cells prepared to attack the coronavirus, which are also an important measure of the success of a vaccine.
But even though data is lacking, health officials responsible for administering these booster doses consider it important that a decision be made now, and in favor of the combination, mainly for two reasons:
The federal government will cover the cost of a different booster shot only if authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
Therefore, two important members of the CDC insisted after the meeting:
When is the booster dose given?
In Moderna’s case, regulators are expected to follow the same approach they took with the Pfizer vaccine and authorize the booster dose about six months after the second injection.
Johnson & Johnson is heading for a booster shot of its vaccine at least two months after the first dose.
But in all cases, health officials have been asking for weeks that the third dose is not strictly linked to the vaccine they initially received, especially to facilitate administration.
And it is that in the United States they have a greater supply of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines than Johnson & Johnson, so being able to change vaccines would greatly speed up the administration of third doses.
In addition, the fact of giving the booster only to those vaccinated with a brand (as is now the case with Pfizer) would not be well understood by the population, who want to be as immunized as possible.
Who will get the third dose?
There is no final decision, but the FDA is expected to authorize the following boosters this week:
What doubts are in the air?
There are still too many issues to be resolved urgently.
On the one hand, there is the case of those already vaccinated with Modern.
For them, the advisory committee voted unanimously last week that the third injection of that same vaccine, but only with half the dose.
On the other, Dr. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, publicly suggested Sunday that it would give more leeway, at least for Johnson & Johnson beneficiaries.
Of course, that affects a very small part of those vaccinated. Because Johnson & Johnson just over 15 million people have been vaccinated, compared to 69.5 million for Moderna and 104.5 million for Pfizer-BioNTech.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.