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Fauci says it’s ‘too premature’ to discuss fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine COVID-19 response and the next steps on Nov. 4, 2021.
Julia Nikhinson

Anthony Fauci on Wednesday said it is “too premature” for the U.S. to be discussing a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose, noting that health officials must first study the “durability” of protection from three jabs.

“I think it’s too premature to be talking about a fourth dose,” the White House’s chief medical adviser said when asked during an interview with WCBS Newsradio 880 if the U.S. is heading toward implementing a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“One of the things that we’re gonna be following very carefully is what the durability of the protection is following the third dose of an mRNA vaccine. If the protection is much more durable than the two dose non-boosted group, and we may go a significant period of time without requiring a fourth dose,” he added.

The White House medical adviser said the “only circumstance” in which he could potentially see a fourth vaccine dose is for “individuals who have a profound degree of immune compromise because of an underlying illness or because of medications that they’re on.”

“But for the general population, I think we have to hold judgment on that for the time being,” he added.

Fauci’s comments come after Israel earlier this week said it was rolling out a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 60, those with compromised immune systems and health care workers in an effort to tame the spread of the virus and limit the risk from the new omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa last month but has since spread globally.

The highly transmissible omicron strain now accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

An Israeli health ministry expert panel recommended that eligible individuals in Israel receive a fourth shot at least four months after their first booster dose was administered, according to NBC News.

A doctor on the panel said it is “seeing a waning of protection against omicron,” according to NBC News.

Health officials in the U.S. have been pushing for individuals to get their first booster shots amid the spread of omicron, after early reports have shown that the initial jabs are less effective against the new variant than prior strains of the virus but that a third dose provides strong protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October said some moderately and severely immunocompromised individuals can get a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to supplement their protection against the virus.

Eligible individuals can receive the second booster dose six months after the first one, according to the health agency’s updated guidance.

–Updated on Dec. 25 at 8:18 a.m.

Tags Anthony Fauci Booster shots COVID-19 COVID-19 boosters COVID-19 vaccines Israel

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