Pfizer booster vaccines likely to begin Sept. 20; Moderna shots may be delayed

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will likely be ready to be administered on Sept. 20, but the Moderna shot may not start at the same time.

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Fauci, speaking on “Face the Nation,” said Moderna may not get regulatory approval for its third shot of the vaccine because the company did not have its data turned over to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the same time as Pfizer did.

“Looks like Pfizer has their data in, likely would meet the deadline,” Fauci said. “We hope that Moderna would also be able to do it, so we could do it simultaneously.”

“But if not, we’ll do it sequentially,” Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

“So, the bottom line is, very likely, at least part of the plan will be implemented, but ultimately the entire plan will be.”

The Biden Administration announced on Aug. 18 that a third dose of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines would be offered beginning from Sept. 20.

A third dose of the vaccine requires approval by the FDA. The FDA has approved a third dose of the vaccine for those who are immunocompromised, but not for the general public.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have submitted research from its booster shot trials to the agency for approval of a third dose of the vaccine.

Moderna is expected to submit its data soon.

An FDA advisory panel is scheduled to review Pfizer’s application for a booster on Sept. 17.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 95.5 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Some 66 million have received the Moderna vaccine and 14.2 million the Johnson & Johnson shot.

In August, the FDA authorized an additional vaccine dose for those who are immunocompromised but said that fully vaccinated individuals did not need an additional vaccine dose then.

This past week, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. reached 40 million.

According to The New York Times COVID-19 database, last week new virus cases averaged more than 161,000 a day, with deaths at 1,385 a day and hospitalizations averaging more than 103,000 a day.

As The Times noted, the rates are high, but lower than they were during last winter’s peaks.

The Biden Administration’s call for a booster shot for the general public has caused some pushback from health officials.

According to some reports, two FDA officials planned to step down over frustration that the White House was following the direction of the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for guidance on booster shots instead of the FDA.

The European Center for Disease Protection reported last week that it did not see compelling evidence yet that people who have been fully vaccinated need a booster shot. Instead, the agency said vaccines should be administered to countries that need them in an effort to better control the spread of the virus worldwide.

Fauci and the White House have defended the booster plan, saying the U.S. has so far donated 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 80 countries.