As COVID variant, Delta, spreads rapidly, health experts discuss potential booster shot

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 4:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The United States have averaged more than 19,000 new COVID cases per day over the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 43 states have reported an increase in cases, more than half have recently come from the Delta strain.

The highly contagious variant is causing global concern about a wave of new cases.

To prevent that, Israel became the first country to administer a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to people who are immunocompromised. The country released data that showed a decline in the vaccine’s effectiveness. It went from more than 90 percent effectiveness to about 64 percent against the virus.

“The question of booster shots is always going to be about timing,” UofL Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith said. “What you want to do is give a booster shot for any vaccine when the prior vaccine is starting to wane. So either your protection from the antibodies it develops is going away or you’ve got a new variants which is not protected against the initial vaccination.”

On Monday, Pfizer is set to meet with top U.S. health experts to discuss the possibility of a booster shot. The company has questioned if its vaccine should be given once a year, like the flu shot.

However, the CDC and FDA released a joint statement stating that a booster shot of the COVID vaccine is not necessary at this time. Dr. Smith agreed and emphasized the importance of everyone receiving at least one dose of the vaccine before the country moves to a third shot.

“I don’t think we know enough yet to say we absolutely need this or don’t need this,” Dr. Smith said. “I think there’s still a lot of information that needs to be produced over the course of the next few months to determine, when do we actually start to lose our protection with those first couple doses. And then, if and when a variant comes out that is not protected by that, then we would need to get a booster shot. Luckily right now, the original vaccine does appear to offer protection against the Delta variant which is what everyone is worried about because of how transmissible it is.”

As of Monday, about 56 percent of Americans who are eligible to received a COVID shot is fully vaccinated.

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