It can be hard to keep track of developments on coronavirus vaccine boosters without a scorecard.
The Food and Drug Administration’s panel of expert advisers is scheduled to vote this week on whether to recommend booster shots for two of the three vaccines in use in the United States, those from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, for each vaccine’s recipients.
The agency has already authorized booster shots of the third, from Pfizer-BioNTech, for certain groups who got that vaccine initially, including adults 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities. Third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines also have been authorized for some people with weaker immune systems, who may not have gotten full protection from the original two doses.
All three vaccines initially provide very strong protection against infection, serious illness and death from Covid-19. The impetus for boosters comes from studies suggesting that while that protection remains strong against serious illness and death, it may decline somewhat over time and could allow more breakthrough infections, especially of the highly contagious Delta variant. The decline tends to be most pronounced in older people and those with certain underlying medical conditions.
Here is a rundown of the booster-shot situation for the three vaccines available in the United States.
What you would get: A third full dose, at least six months after your second.
Where it stands in the U.S.: Available now for many people. The F.D.A. has authorized third shots for people over 65, people with certain medical conditions and some others who are at high risk because of where they work or live. (Some immunocompromised people can get a third shot a month after their second.) The agency has put off a decision on whether to authorize boosters for other people.
Where it stands elsewhere: Israel and some other countries are administering Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots widely.
What the science says: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was the first to win full approval in the United States (for those 16 and older), the first to be authorized for some children (those 12 to 15) and the first to be authorized for boosters; the available data on its safety and effectiveness is especially robust. Some studies suggest that the vaccine may decline in effectiveness over time a bit more than the Moderna vaccine.
What you would get: A half-dose, at least six months after your second full dose.
Where it stands in the U.S.: Awaiting authorization as a booster for the same population groups who are now eligible for a Pfizer booster. (Some immunocompromised people can receive a full third dose a month after their second.)
Where it stands elsewhere: Some countries are offering Moderna booster shots or planning to do so soon.
What the science says: Some studies suggest that the Moderna vaccine’s effectiveness declines less than the other two vaccines available in the United States do. That may mean there is less need for Moderna recipients to get boosters. Taking that into account, an F.D.A. staff report took a neutral stance on Moderna’s booster-shot application.
Johnson & Johnson
What you would get: A second dose, probably six months after the initial dose.
Where it stands in the U.S.: Awaiting authorization. An F.D.A. staff report found significant shortcomings in the data that the company submitted with its application, but it was not clear whether that would delay a decision.
Where it stands elsewhere: No country has yet recommended administering second doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
What the science says: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine gives strong initial protection after one dose, though not as strong as the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose vaccines, so there has long been interest in boosters for Johnson & Johnson recipients.
The post Here’s a snapshot of where things stand on boosters for the three vaccines in use in the U.S. appeared first on New York Times.