LA Times via Yahoo
Amid persistent concerns that the protection offered by COVID-19 vaccines may be waning, a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that America’s workhorse shot is significantly less effective at preventing severe cases of disease over the long term than many experts had realized. Data collected from 18 states between March and August suggest the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 by 91% in the first four months after receiving the second dose. Beyond 120 days, however, that vaccine efficacy drops to 77%. Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine was 93% effective at reducing the short-term risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and remained 92% effective after 120 days. Overall, 54% of fully vaccinated Americans have been immunized with the Pfizer shot. The surprising findings came as a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended against offering booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine to all Americans ages 16 and older. In a striking rebuke, 16 of 18 experts told the agency it had not mustered enough data to make a third shot the norm. In lengthy briefings to the panel, representatives from Pfizer pointed to clinical trial results involving 306 mostly healthy participants to argue that a booster “restores” the 95% vaccine effectiveness rate seen earlier in the pandemic. Company officials also touted evidence from Israel, which rolled out boosters after seeing a rise in hospitalizations among people who were fully vaccinated. Those hospitalizations dropped dramatically after third doses were given, Israeli scientists have said. But panel members made clear that despite Pfizer’s aggressive stance, it had not gathered enough evidence that a third shot was safe for young people and for those at lesser risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.