- The FDA is expected to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine for all adults as early as this week.
- The news comes as COVID-19 cases are increasing in the U.S.
- Experts are concerned that cases could surge again during the holidays.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to authorize booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all adults as early as this week, reports The New York Times.
The news comes as the United States prepares for a possible winter surge of COVID-19 as the holidays approach.
As of Nov. 16, reported new U.S. cases had averaged over 83,000 a day over the past week, an 18 percent increase from 2 weeks earlier.
Europe, where COVID-19 trends often hint at what is to come in the United States, has recently seen a sharp rise in cases.
In advance of the FDA’s decision, some states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, have already broadened access to COVID-19 boosters to virtually all vaccinated adults.
On Nov. 15, New York City also announced that it was ordering healthcare professionals not to turn away any adults seeking booster doses.
The FDA is expected to make this decision without input from its independent vaccine advisory committee. This committee has met publicly throughout the pandemic to advise the agency on the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine advisory panel is scheduled to meet Nov. 19 to review data on the booster dose’s safety and efficacy.
If both agencies sign off on Pfizer-BioNTech boosters for all adults this week, tens of millions more people in the United States could be eligible.
People would be able to receive this extra dose at least 6 months after completing their primary series.
This move would be a little over a week after Pfizer said it asked the FDA to authorize its booster for all U.S. adults 18 and older.
The FDA and CDC previously approved mRNA boosters for certain high-risk adults, including those over age 65 and younger people with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19.
In addition, anyone over 18 who had received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is eligible for a booster.
Although boosters are not yet available to all adults, many Americans who do not qualify have sought out extra doses on their own, reports the Times.
Around 17 percent of all adults have received a booster, according to the CDC, with over one-third of people over 65 having received an extra dose.
Some experts are concerned that this has created additional health disparities in the country, with historically marginalized groups less likely to access an extra dose.
The CDC is not yet reporting race and ethnicity data for people who have received a booster.