The coronavirus vaccine booster blitz that the Biden White House is planning is being opposed by what a new report says is “a vocal contingent of prominent doctors and scientists.”
These outside experts, many of whom mattered when President Joe Biden had them on his transition team, expressed the view that their expertise had been left behind during a Sept. 27 call on vaccine policy, according to Politico.
The contention of those focused on the data is that the justification for using boosters to address issues related to breakthrough infections for the virus’ delta variant is simply lacking.
The report said that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top Biden advisers were told that saner health policy would be to limit the boosters to only those at high risk of severe infection who could be hospitalized or die.
The willingness of the Biden White House to make the facts fit its conclusions “undermines credibility not just for [federal health] agencies but for the administration overall,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative at Columbia University.
“Somebody needs a communication lesson. Maybe many people do,” he said.
When Politico went fishing for comments about the opposition of some experts to decisions ordained by the White House, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said the administration “regularly engage[s] outside stakeholders from the medical community with a broad array of viewpoints for their feedback.”
According to the report, during the Sept. 27 call, Fauci said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention independent vaccine advisory committee that wanted boosters limited to high-risk groups got it wrong.
The report, which cited sources it did not name, said Fauci also wanted to use boosters as a tool to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
That, according to the report, sparked a fierce debate over what exactly the Biden administration’s end game was all about.
“It was very tense,” Politico quoted one source as saying. “More than anything, it was like Fauci felt he needed to make a point.”
Some said the better approach to addressing the spread of the virus would be to address vaccine reluctance rather than further vaccinating those already vaccinated.
“There is some benefit to reducing transmission with boosters. But that benefit is marginal compared to the benefit of vaccinating people in parts of the country that are not vaccinated, never gotten a dose to begin with,” said Nahid Bhadelia, director of Boston University’s Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research.
“Even with the booster, the antibodies may go down again. And as long as there is a pool of people who are not vaccinated in the community, I’m not going to be 100 percent protected,” Bhadelia said.
Others said that with the pandemic closing in on its third year and no end in sight, the administration must make tough decisions on boosters without full data.
One expert said a divided medical community should not be unexpected.
“Part of what we’re working out here is how to use these vaccines, and we shouldn’t be surprised that we don’t have all the answers,” said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who advised the Biden transition team and supports boosters. “Too many people are viewing this as a luxury dose. It’s not.”
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