September 14. The Biden administration’s push to roll out coronavirus vaccine booster shots this month has largely been shaped by unpublished data from Israel’s vaccination campaign, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.
The Israel data, which is set to be made public as soon as this week, shows that the Pfizer vaccine’s ability to prevent severe disease and hospitalization is waning over time — as is the shot’s protection against mild and moderate disease, the two sources said. The country began administering boosters to people over 60 in July and has now expanded it to people over 30, but it has released relatively little information so far about the effect of the booster campaign.
The Biden administration has long relied on data from Israel, which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, to inform its Covid-19 response. Top officials from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have analyzed the latest Israeli data for weeks, concluding that the U.S. should begin administering boosters this fall.
Senior administration officials working on the federal government’s response to the pandemic have for weeks debated whether to recommend booster shots for Americans. The White House and top health officials said in mid-August that they planned to roll out the shots for most adults beginning on Sept. 20. The move has sparked tensions between Biden’s top aides, the CDC and the FDA, amid questions about whether domestic data supported the goal. Two senior FDA vaccine scientists who are leaving the agency co-authored an analysis published Monday in the Lancet that found no evidence to support giving booster shots to the general population.