“What’s the difference between emergency use clearance from the FDA and full approval? It’s really time and money,” disease specialist Dr Celine Gounder told CNN on Saturday. infectious diseases and epidemiologist.
“But for some people, seeing full FDA approval will indeed give them more confidence that these vaccines are safe and effective – and appear, they are safe and effective,” she added.
The FDA will “act as quickly as possible,” without compromising its safety standards, to assess Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for approval, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Friday.
More than 112 million Americans – nearly 34% of the population – are fully immunized, according to CDC data.
US official: confidence in vaccines is only part of the puzzle
But confidence in vaccines is only a “piece of the puzzle” when it comes to the challenges the United States faces in its vaccination efforts, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Friday in a statement. White House briefing on Covid-19.
“Obstacles to immunization fall into three broad categories,” he said. “Confidence, motivation and access to vaccines.”
And local, state and federal efforts are underway, he said, that aim to address all three elements.
“I know it has been a difficult year and everyone in our country has been called upon to come together and sacrifice massively,” said Murthy. “I want to be clear that this pandemic will end. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner that day will come.”
J&J pause ‘casts a shadow’ on vaccinations
But the recommendation to take a break had its own effects.
“(The) Johnson & Johnson break cast a shadow over the momentum we had gained,” said Dr Jayne Morgan, clinical director of the Piedmont Healthcare Covid task force. “I think the folks who were on the fence have stepped off the fence and are taking a look again as we move towards what we hope will be full FDA approval of Pfizer.”
Two weeks after lifting the break recommended by J&J, this vaccine represents only a very small portion of doses administered in the United States – and the current rate of administration is significantly lower than the rate before the break, according to data from the CDC.
Over seven days, the J&J vaccine accounted for roughly 3.5% of the total doses administered, according to data released by the CDC on Friday.
Boosters will likely be a reality, expert says
Meanwhile, the CDC is preparing for seasonal Covid-19 vaccine recalls in case they are needed, its chief said on Friday, adding that researchers are also looking into whether the United States will need a booster that works specifically against certain variants of coronavirus.
“We are doing studies on boosters to see if we will need them,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told actress Jennifer Garner in an interview posted on Instagram. “We want to be prepared for them if we need to.”
Potential Covid-19 boosters could be offered in the same way as the annual flu shot, Walensky said.
“We hope we don’t have to do it every season, but we are preparing in case we do,” she added.
“I think most likely we’ll be recommending boosters,” Swaminathan told CNN on Saturday. “Whether it’s six months, one year, we still don’t know. What we do know is that even against the variants, our vaccines are still quite effective.”
“But I think the boosters are going to be a reality,” he added.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid, Lauren Mascarenhas, Deidre McPhillips and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.