When Joe Biden was elected president of the United States, he declared that he would listen to scientists, and that was one of the important characteristics of his election campaign. But which scientists should he listen to? The various ones that deal with vaccines.
About a week ago, the FDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approved the Booster vaccine of Pfizer and Biontech for those 65 and older, as well as people at risk because of background illness or because of their job or place of residence. This approval came after Biden had already promised to launch a third vaccination campaign, and Pfizer and Biontech sought approval for all target audiences over the age of 16. The FDA did not feel comfortable approving the vaccine for this group based on existing information, and decided gradually, first for risk groups.
The discussion then moved to ACIP – she Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, to determine the interpretation of the definition ‘People at risk’. The ACIP is an advisory committee whose job is to decide how to use vaccines after they have already been approved by the FDA. This is a committee subordinate to the CDC, the American Disease Control Organization, which implements moves in the field of public health.
The ACIP is in an intermediate position, between the FDA that makes the principled decisions regarding vaccines and the CDC that implements these decisions. The ACIP is empowered to make decisions such as which of several approved vaccines a particular outbreak should be used for, how to vaccinate vaccines in response to a particular outbreak, whether a particular outbreak of a known disease currently justifies the use of an approved vaccine and what the urgency is, and so on.
The ACIP voted in favor of a relatively broad interpretation of the recommendation for many medical risk groups. However, with regard to administering the vaccine to people living or working in a high.risk environment such as health care workers, prisoners and wardens, homeless people living in shelters and workers in these homes, the decision was negative. The committee members argued that this was a slippery slope that would allow almost anyone to be vaccinated, as stated because the warehouses in pharmacies, where most of the vaccination campaign was held in the US, could not verify the vaccineer’s profession or living condition.
Another argument was that immediately extending the recommendation for the third vaccine “would send the wrong message about the effectiveness of the first two vaccines. It’s like we say vaccines do not work, but they work,” Prof. Pablo Sanchez, a professor of pediatrics at the university, told STAT Ohio and a member of the committee.
Other sources in the committee argued that the booster would not “solve the U.S. Cubid problem” because it is based primarily on the unvaccinated.
Then came the surprise, when the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle and Lansky, nevertheless decided that the CDC would offer the vaccine to these audiences. FDA.
At a White House press conference, she explained that she listened carefully to all the scientists who discussed the issue, and that the decision falls within her area of authority. She also noted that many of the workers in question who will benefit from the vaccine are people from underprivileged sectors, who were hit harder in the first place by the epidemic.
This decision supports Biden’s policy of giving the booster vaccine to as many people as possible, a decision that has already led to protests by the FDA, when Biden announced its intention to launch the vaccination campaign, even before the FDA approved it. Although in the end Wolensky’s decision is in line with the FDA vote, some doctors have expressed concern about what appears to be political pressure on scientists. Wolensky reassured that the process was completely transparent, and will continue to be so. Indeed, the discussions themselves were open to the general public.
Currently, all of the recommendations are only relevant to Americans who have previously been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. This is because a significant part of the information on which the decision is based is from Israel, which uses mainly Pfizer vaccines. In the future, a discussion is also expected about the other two vaccines that are in use in the United States – of Moderna and of the Johnson & Johnson company, with these companies presenting their own information.
Full disclosure: This article has been updated and revised