The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize this week a third shot of COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with weak immunity, reports say. The move could give people with compromised immune systems a booster shot of the current two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
An FDA spokesperson was quoted as saying by CNN: “The FDA is closely monitoring data as it becomes available from studies administering an additional dose of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals.”
“The agency, along with the CDC, is evaluating potential options on this issue, and will share information in the near future,” the official added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines immunocompromised as patients who are organ transplant recipients, people with HIV, people undergoing cancer treatments, and people with solid tumor malignancies, among others.
The development comes as the Delta variant continues to sweep across the United States.
Scientists said that some people in the immunocompromised population could already benefit from the standard two-dose or one-dose vaccines, while others feel little to no effects. They also found out that organ transplant recipients will benefit more from a third shot.
In a small study published in June by experts at Johns Hopkins University, at least 24 of 30 organ transplants recipients who received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine did not develop antibodies against COVID-19. While the six other patients developed antibodies following the vaccination, the low levels of antibodies still left them susceptible to the virus.
After the experts gave the patients a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, eight of the 24 patients who previously had no antibodies had an increase. The six patients who had low levels of antibodies following the second shot also had an increase in antibodies after the booster dose.
Although the FDA already decided on the third dose, it will still be considered by an advisory committee to the CDC. The meeting on this matter will be on Friday, and if the CDC sides with the FDA, the latter will issue a recommendation on the same day to give guidance to physicians and pharmacists on how to go about with the decision.
The United States is not the only country to give a third dose to people with poor immune responses. France, for one, started giving the third dose in April, while Germany and Hungary followed after.