Fauci says vulnerable populations may need vaccine booster shots

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration 'Highest priority' is to vaccinate the unvaccinated, Fauci says Sunday shows - Boosters in the spotlight MORE said on Sunday that it was likely vulnerable populations who have already been vaccinated would need COVID-19 booster shots.

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperYarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Fauci on FDA advisers' booster recommendations: 'I don't think they made a mistake' Mississippi governor: Biden vaccine mandates an 'attack' on 'hard-working Americans' MORE mentioned a study published by Israel’s Health Ministry last week that estimated the Pfizer vaccine had a 39 percent overall effectiveness at preventing coronavirus infections in a study conducted over the last month.

Tapper noted that the study’s data was preliminary but cited CNN reporting that said the Biden administration expected that some vulnerable populations in the country might need a third shot.

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“What changed?” Tapper asked Fauci.

“Well, I think it's a dynamic situation. It's a work in progress. It evolves like in so many other areas of the pandemic,” Fauci said.  

“You have got to look at the data. And the data that's evolving from Israel and from Pfizer indicates that it looks like there might be some diminution in protection. And when you have that, the most vulnerable people are the ones that you were talking about a moment ago, namely, people who have suppressed immune systems, those who are transplant patients, cancer chemotherapy, autoimmune diseases, that are on immunosuppressive regimens,” Fauci continued. 

“Those are the kind of individuals that, if there's going to be a third boost, which might likely happen, would be among first the vulnerable. And the ACIP, which met on July 22, they discussed that in some detail and continue to look at the data that might push us in that direction,” Fauci added, referring to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which issues recommendations on using vaccines to manage diseases in the U.S.

The Israeli report warned that the data could be skewed because of how vaccinated and unvaccinated people have been tested, according to Bloomberg.

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“The heavily skewed exposure patterns in the recent outbreak in Israel, which are limited to specific population sectors and localities,” Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel’s national expert advisory team on the COVID-19 response, said in a statement, according to the wire service.

“We are trying to complement this research approach with additional ones, taking additional personal characteristics into account. But this takes time and larger case numbers,” he added. 

Pfizer and BioNTech expressed confidence in their vaccine’s safety and protection, according to a statement that Pfizer gave Bloomberg on Friday. A spokeswoman for BioNTech told Bloomberg that the company was viewing the data from the study.

The two companies, however, already announced earlier this month that they were planning on seeking authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for a booster of their COVID-19 vaccine, pointing to previous data from Israel.