Huntsville infectious disease specialist responds to Pfizer push for COVID-19 booster shot approval

Coronavirus

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Thursday the company is looking for U.S. authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company says it could boost immunity dramatically, but health agencies aren’t sold yet.

Pfizer is searching for approval for the booster shot, saying they want to ensure the masses are protected from COVID-19 and its variants. Pfizer researchers say a third shot could increase protective antibodies up to 10 times, providing new antibodies to replace those declining over time, but the FDA and CDC both claim they need more evidence.

Huntsville Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Ali Hassoun says studies show Pfizer and Moderna may be effective up to a year, but its efficacy may fade, making the population more susceptible.

“My thought about this is we’re probably going to need more information coming up to make a final decision because we need multiple studies, but at the same time I think we’re probably going to end up needing a booster dose,” he said.

Pfizer’s push for further protection comes with a surge in COVID-19 variants. Right now, the highly contagious Delta variant is just one Hassoun calls a concern for vaccine efficacy as time goes on, especially in areas with low vaccination rates like certain Alabama counties.

He says the fewer people vaccinated, the more opportunity for mutations as the virus replicates.

“We’re heading in a way that’s unfortunate, a lot of people are not vaccinated and that’s what continuing the issue, and if we continue with that issue, we’re going to get more mutation, we’re going to get more issues coming up and that’s why we’re going to end up needing a booster probably,” Dr. Hassoun said.

News 19 asked Hassoun if the data did prove to be beneficial, who should take advantage of the opportunity:

“Those at high risk should get it as soon as possible if we know it to be helpful, and it should be offered to everybody else,” he said.

He says right now it’s a waiting game as leaders continue to study the data, but he says if it proves valuable, then, “I think it’s going to be worth it because we’re not going to end this issue. I don’t think it’s going to end if our vaccination rate is going to be like that,” he said.

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