The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent vaccine advisory panel has endorsed the use of a third Pfizer Covid-19 jab for children aged 5 – 11.
The move came just two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization for the booster.
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Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot, associate professor of medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, voted against endorsing the shots. Dr. Kevin A. Ault, with the department of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, Kansas, abstained.
The ACIP’s recommendation came two days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Pfizer’s request for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of a single booster dose for this age group, saying the third shot should be administered at least five months after completion of a primary series with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign off on today’s ACIP committee recommendation, clearing the way for healthcare workers to begin administering the shots.
During today’s meeting, Pfizer presented data from a small group of 30 children ages 5 to 11 showing that a third dose boosted infection-blocking antibody levels against Omicron 22-fold one month after administration compared to two doses, CNBC reported.
Dr. Charu Sabharwal, Pfizer’s director of vaccine clinical research, said the increased antibody levels should confer real-world protection against the Omicron variant, though the company did not present efficacy data during Thursday’s meeting.
However, as The Defender reported, antibody levels alone are not indicative of immune protection. When it comes to COVID-19, T-cell and natural killer cell responses are the crucial part of immune protection.
The FDA asserts the presence of SARS-COV-2 antibodies is not necessarily indicative of immune protection from COVID-19.
Moreover, the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Product Advisory Committee last month reached a consensus that antibody levels cannot be used as a correlate for vaccine effectiveness.
The FDA and CDC this week used the same data to support authorization of boosters for children this age.
The FDA’s authorization of the boosters earlier this week came despite data showing higher infection rates among fully vaccinated children in the 5-to-11 age group compared to unvaccinated children, no studies testing the efficacy of the vaccine against the current dominant BA.2 COVID-19 variant and two new studies showing that for vaccinated people who get Omicron, the infection provides better protection against future infections than a second booster dose.
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