J&J vaccine and boosters: CDC advisers to meet on Thursday to discuss safety concerns and need for coronavirus boosters

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to meet from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. It is not expected that the panel will vote on the items on the agenda.

ACIP is a panel of external medical experts in the fields of vaccinology, immunology, pediatrics, internal medicine, nursing, virology, public health, infectious diseases and other sub-specialties. The CDC generally accepts its recommendations once the votes have been cast.

ACIP provided crucial advice throughout the pandemic, including advice on emergency use authorization for the three Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the United States, Pfizer’s vaccine authorization for 12-15 year olds and, in April, to end the break from the J&J vaccine due to a rare blood clotting disorder that has occurred in a small number of vaccinees.
On Thursday, ACIP will address several new issues regarding the safety and sustainability of Covid-19 vaccines. To begin with, ACIP will review recent data on cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with the J&J coronavirus vaccine. Federal health officials say there have been some 100 preliminary reports of GBS – a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes temporary paralysis – among nearly 13 million people who received the vaccine.
The United States Food and Drug Administration already updated the J&J vaccine label last week to list GBS as a rare risk. The ACIP discussion tomorrow will focus on whether, given this adverse event, the benefit of J&J vaccine still outweighs the risk of GBS. ACIP is expected to say so.

Tomorrow’s meeting was precipitated by this newly identified adverse event, Dr William Schaffner, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and member of ACIP, told CNN. “There will be no formal votes and will come to the conclusion that the risk of Covid is very high and the risks of the vaccine very low. Real, but very low,” he added.

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ACIP will also address the topic of coronavirus vaccine boosters with priority given to reviewing data on the need for booster shots for immunocompromised people. Recent reports have suggested that Covid-19 vaccines are not effective enough in people with weakened immune systems, and last week the CDC revised its guidelines for fully vaccinated people. He warned people who are immunocompromised that the vaccines may not be as effective for them, and they are encouraged to continue with safety precautions as if they were not vaccinated. However, the CDC has yet to officially recommend any boosters to anyone.

The aim of ACIP tomorrow is to weigh in on the need for boosters and examine what data is currently available and published. “What [ACIP] will demonstrate tomorrow is that the evidence is very scarce, ”says Schaffner, which ultimately means that the group will not vote on boosters.

Earlier this month, Pfizer announced that it would seek approval to provide a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine as a booster, citing data from Israel on the continued spread of the coronavirus and the limited effectiveness against the more transferable Delta variant.

Health officials including Dr.Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, continue to say the United States needs more data before recommending coronavirus vaccine boosters to anyone.

“The CDC and the FDA have said that based on the data we currently know, we don’t need a boost,” Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo last week. “This is not to say that it will not change. In fact, we may need, at some point, to give reminders either at all levels or to certain selected groups, such as the elderly or those suffering from dementia. ‘underlying conditions. “

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