Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, maintained his support for people under age 65 who have been vaccinated against coronavirus to get a booster shot even after the FDA would not approve it.
On Friday, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee said no to an application for boosters except for people 65 and older and for at-risk populations. In a conversation with “Fox News Sunday,” Collins dismissed the FDA’s decision as being subject to change upon further review of the science.
“I think the big news is that they did approve the initiation of boosters,” Collins said regarding the emergency use authorization for older and at-risk Americans. “Remember, they’re taking a snapshot of right now, we’re going to see what happens in the coming weeks. It would surprise me if it does not become clear over the next few weeks that the administration of boosters may need to be enlarged. Based upon the data that we’ve already seen both in the U.S. and in Israel, it’s clear that the waning of the effectiveness of those vaccines is a reality and we need to respond to it.”
The Biden administration had looked at Sept. 20 as a date to begin offering booster shots for all Americans, but the CDC noted that this was pending FDA approval.
Collins said he was not sure whether boosters will be recommended for all, pointing to concerns of risks outweighing benefits for younger people, but he maintained that boosters for people under 65 will be approved.
Two FDA officials — Office of Vaccines Research and Review director Marion Gruber and deputy director Phil Krause — are reportedly stepping down from their posts in protest of the Biden administration’s push for booster shots.
They and a group of other leading scientists recently asserted that the available evidence does not yet support encouraging COVID booster shots for all Americans.
“Careful and public scrutiny of the evolving data will be needed to assure that decisions about boosting are informed by reliable science more than by politics,” the group of wrote, adding in part: “Widespread boosting should be undertaken only if there is clear evidence that it is appropriate.”
Fox News’ Houston and Keene and Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.