US Coronavirus: Three doses of Covid-19 vaccine are likely needed for full protection, Fauci says

US Coronavirus: Three doses of Covid-19 vaccine are likely needed for full protection, Fauci says


He cited two Israeli-based studies that showed a decrease in infections among people who got a third or booster shot.

There was good reason to believe that a third dose “will actually be durable, and if it is durable, then you’re going to have very likely a three-dose regimen being the routine regimen,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a briefing Thursday.

It’s ultimately up to the US Food and Drug Administration to decide whether Americans should get three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, Fauci said. The agency is considering the question later this month after Moderna and Pfizer both applied for FDA authorization for a third dose either six months or eight months after getting the second dose.
The recommendation for the booster doses will likely lead to availability for a broad portion of the population, and doses could begin rolling out as early as the week of September 20, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday.

“At some point down the line, we may have a way of telling who needs an extra shot, and who doesn’t,” Murthy said on a call hosted by US Health and Human Services’ Covid-19 Community Corps.

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“Right now, we don’t have that indicator, which is why we’re recommending that not only people get vaccinated across the board — regardless of whether they were infected in the past or not — but also when it comes to getting these extra doses to sustain and extend your protection, that we do that broadly,” he said.

Additional doses were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA this month for those who are immunocompromised.

Even though the doses are not yet available to the public, local health departments nationwide have seen a recent surge in calls from people wanting to make appointments, according to the National Association of County and City Health Departments.

But the emphasis remains on increasing vaccination rates among the US population to help overcome the pandemic. Approximately 52.7% of the total US population are fully vaccinated. But of the 10 states with the worst Covid-19 case rates over the past week, seven of them also had among the 10 best vaccination rates, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schools and universities enact safety measures

The risk of Covid-19 spread at schools and campuses remains critical, and recent research demonstrates how unmasked behavior among the unvaccinated can lead to outbreaks.

A study published Thursday described a Covid-19 outbreak among more than 150 students at a Chicago university after many unvaccinated students traveled during spring break, despite university policies that advised against it.
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To prevent similar outbreaks, some universities have instituted mandates to attend classes in-person.

Virginia Tech disenrolled 134 students for failing to comply with the university’s requirement that students be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and “did not submit vaccination documentation or receive a medical or religious exemption,” according to a statement on Monday.

The University of Virginia has also disenrolled more than 200 students for failing to comply with their vaccine mandate, according to a statement last month.
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“Communities with high vaccination coverage are seeing lower pediatric cases and hospitalizations,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Along with vaccinations, mask-wearing is also beneficial to curbing Covid-19 spread, evidence shows.

The state of New York will require weekly Covid-19 testing for teachers and other school employees, with an opt-out for those who are vaccinated, and will continue their mask mandate for everybody in a school building, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.

In Florida, districts will be able to institute mask mandates following a judge signing a written order Thursday that ruled against Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on such mandates in schools. DeSantis said he will appeal.

New Mu variant is under observation

A new coronavirus variant designated as Mu by the World Health Organization is being monitored as a “variant of interest,” but federal health officials say they don’t consider it immediately dangerous.

On Tuesday, WHO designated the B.1.621 variant as a “variant of interest” because it carries mutations that could help it partially evade vaccines and treatments such as monoclonal antibodies. WHO named it Mu under its system to designate important variants using the Greek alphabet.

“This variant has a constellation of mutations that suggests that it would evade certain antibodies,” Fauci said Thursday of Mu. “Not only monoclonal antibodies, but vaccine and convalescent serum-induced antibodies. But there isn’t a lot of clinical data to suggest that — it is mostly laboratory, in vitro, data.

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“Not to downplay it — we take it very seriously. But remember, even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of vaccines, the vaccines still are quite effective against variants of that type. Bottom line, we’re paying attention to it. We take everything like that seriously. But we don’t consider it an immediate threat right now,” he said.

The Delta variant still accounts for more than 99% of Covid-19 cases diagnosed and sequenced in the US, Walensky said Thursday, while Mu is rare.

“We are watching it carefully,” she said.

CNN’s Maggie Fox, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jacqueline Howard, Deidre McPhillips, Naomi Thomas, Elizabeth Stuart, Rob Frehse, Hannah Sarisohn, Sara Weisfeldt and Leyla Santiago contributed to this report.


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Sasha Terry