A top vaccine expert and pediatrician is warning parents of healthy young people not to get the new COVID booster shot, saying it may be risky and has yet to be proven effective.
Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccine Advisory Committee, said he is not entirely convinced that the benefits of a third vaccine l outweighed the damage.
‘Who really benefits from another dose?’ Offit said on CNN.
He acknowledged that studies have shown that people over 65, immunocompromised or with chronic illnesses are less likely to be hospitalized with the virus if they have received a third or even a fourth vaccine.
The newly developed dose, called a bivalent vaccine, is a cocktail of the original coronavirus strain combined with parts of the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The hope being that people would be able to fight off a wider range of more contagious viral mutations.
But writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Offitt said preliminary data suggested the newer bivalent vaccines were actually less effective at warding off COVID infections than the first generation of vaccines.
It highlighted data comparing Moderna’s original COVID vaccine and its new bivalent update. Of a test group that received both vaccines, 11 people who received bivalent vaccines contracted the virus, while only five people who received the original “monovalent” vaccine caught COVID.
Offit warned the Biden administration that “overselling” new bivalent vaccines without more data could “erode public trust” in them.
Dr Paul Offit, right, warns there are still risks to healthy young people that need to be considered before receiving the COVID booster
Sean Bagley, 14, seen here, recently received the bivalent vaccine at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn.
He explained that the recent FDA approval of a new vaccine concocted by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech comes with few guarantees and some risks.
“A healthy young person is unlikely to benefit from the extra dose,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that vaccine side effects, such as myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, are rare, but occur most often in teenagers and young men.
Myocarditis can even be fatal, with young people much less likely to suffer from severe COVID infection than older people.
President Joe Biden said the covid-19 pandemic was ‘over’ in an interview with CBS News
“When you’re asking people to get vaccinated, I think there has to be clear evidence of benefit,” he said, adding that it’s not realistic to have clinical trials of the last dose. “You would like to have, at least, human data,” he said. So far, the only tests of new vaccines have been done in lab mice.
“Right now they’re saying we should trust mouse data,” he said, “and I don’t think that should ever be true.”
Offit voted against approving the new vaccine.
“If there’s no clear evidence of benefit, I don’t think it’s fair to ask people to take a risk, no matter how small,” Offit said.
The doctor recently warned that pushing the new stunt without supporting evidence risked “eroding public trust”.
He said studies of the bivalent vaccine so far had been “disappointing”.
The increased emphasis on boosters is at odds with President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that “the pandemic is over.”
“The pandemic is over,” Biden told 60 Minutes. “We still have a problem with COVID. We are still working on it a lot. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one is wearing a mask. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape, so I think that’s changing.
The president’s statement flies in the face of what health officials in his administration have said.
“We have a virus that is still circulating, still killing hundreds of Americans every day,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said during a Sept. 9 press briefing.
“I think all of us as Americans need to come together to try to protect Americans…and do what we can to get our healthcare system through what could be a tough fall and winter ahead.”
He may also have submarined his own request for $22.4 billion from Congress to continue the fight against the virus.
There have been about 54,000 new cases of the virus on average over the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University, with about 400 Americans succumbing to the virus every day.