Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are reporting enhanced disease-fighting response from booster shots, an encouraging development in light of vaccines’ diminished effectiveness over time as the delta variant of the coronavirus has turbocharged a fourth wave of infections in the U.S.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech plan to submit this week their COVID-19 booster shot for Food and Drug Administration approval for people over 16, the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday.
Phase 3 trial data shows a third dose of their vaccine – called Comirnaty – produced more than three times the neutralizing antibodies against the coronavirus compared with a second dose, the companies said. On Monday, their COVID-19 vaccine became the first one to receive full FDA approval.
Johnson & Johnson also said Wednesday that studies show a booster dose of its vaccine offered a ninefold increase in antibodies compared with the single-shot vaccine on its own.
The company said it was working with federal officials, including the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on next steps to enhance the effects of the vaccine and ready a possible booster shot.
The Biden administration said last week that, starting Sept. 20, it will provide booster shots to people who completed their two-dose regimen of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least eight months before. A booster shot has already been authorized for those who are immunocompromised.
A CDC study released Tuesday showed protection from the vaccines may decline over time as the delta variant surges across the country. Once delta became the dominant strain in the U.S., vaccine effectiveness against infection decreased from 91% to 66%.
A second CDC study found that a quarter of COVID-19 infections from May to July in Los Angeles were breakthrough cases, but hospitalizations were significantly lower for those who had been inoculated. Unvaccinated people were more than 29 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people, and about five times more likely to be infected.
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►Tennessee surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases Tuesday amid a rise in hospitalizations and the rapid spread of the virus among the unvaccinated and school-age children. It’s the 12th state to hit the milestone, according to Johns Hopkins University data.