A top vaccine expert and pediatrician is warning parents of healthy young people to delay the new COVID booster injection, as it may carry risks and its efficacy has not yet been proven.
dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, said he isn’t fully convinced of the benefits of a third injection that outweigh the harm.
“Who really benefits from a different dose?” Offit said on CNN.
He did acknowledge that studies have shown that people who are older than 65, are immunocompromised or have a chronic condition are less likely to be hospitalized with the virus if they have had a third or even fourth injection.
The newly developed dose, called a bivalent vaccine, is a cocktail of the original coronavirus strain combined with parts of the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The hope is that humans would be able to fight a wider range of more highly contagious virus mutations.
But writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Offitt said preliminary data suggested the new bivalent vaccines were actually worse at warding off COVID infections than the first-generation shots.
dr. Paul Offit, correct, warns there are still risks to healthy young people to consider before getting the COVID booster shot
Sean Bagley, 14, seen here, recently got the bivalent vaccine at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn.
He explained that the recent FDA approval of a new vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech comes with few guarantees and some risks.
“It is unlikely that a healthy young person would benefit from the extra dose,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that side effects of vaccines, such as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the outer layer of the heart, are rare, but they occur most often in adolescents and young men.
Myocarditis can even be fatal, with young people much less likely to develop a serious COVID infection than older people.
President Joe Biden stated in an interview with CBS News that the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘over’
“If you ask people to get a vaccine, I think there has to be clear evidence of benefit,” he said, adding that it’s unrealistic to do clinical trials with the last dose. “You’d at least like to have human data,” he said. So far, the only tests with the new recordings have been done on laboratory mice.
“Right now they say we should trust mouse data,” he said, “and I don’t think that should ever be true.”
Offit voted against the approval of the new vaccine.
“If there’s no clear evidence of benefit, then I don’t think it’s fair to ask people to take a risk, no matter how small,” Offit said.
The doctor recently warned that pushing the new injection without the corroborating evidence “will erode public confidence.”
He said the studies regarding the bivalent vaccine have so far been “not overwhelming.”
The increased emphasis on boosters is at odds with President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that “the pandemic is over.”
“The pandemic is over,” Biden told 60 Minutes. “We still have a problem with COVID. We are still working on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice that no one is wearing masks. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape, so I think it’s changing.”
The president’s statement goes against what his administration’s health officials have said.
“We have a virus out there that is still circulating and still killing hundreds of Americans a day,” Ashish Jha, White House response coordinator for COVID-19, said at a news conference on Sept. 9.
“I think as Americans we should all work together to try to protect Americans…and do what we can to get our health care system through a difficult fall and winter.”
He may also have flooded his own $22.4 billion request to Congress to continue the fight against the virus.
According to Johns Hopkins University, an average of 54,000 new cases of the virus have emerged in the past two weeks, with about 400 Americans succumbing to the virus every day.
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