Pfizer recently issued a press release saying their data show declining efficacy of its BioNtec COVID vaccine, and it is working on a booster that is geared more toward the delta variant for which it will apply for emergency use authorization in August.
The same day, the CDC issued a statement saying that fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster right now which was later amended to say that CDC does not see a need for a booster in its data. Of course, there is just a subtle difference between the original statement and the addendum.
When it comes to public health, especially around COVID, humility is a virtue for everyone involved. Israel says Pfizer COVID shots are ~63% effective at preventing infection from the COVID delta variant. It should know. Israel’s vaccination program consisted almost exclusively of the Pfizer vaccine. It has also reinstituted an indoor mask mandate.
But so sure in their sight the CDC is that they are positive no booster is needed and data from abroad regarding the same vaccines is somehow not applicable. Is that something like, in a situation where most respiratory diseases are spread by aerosol, they were sure we didn’t need masks? It would have been better for the CDC, if saying nothing is also an option, to not have released any statement at all if they did not wish to look foolish by admitting they don’t know or vain by saying they do know when they probably do not. The next best option would have been to release a statement saying something like they are still studying vaccine efficacy and do not yet know if or when a booster may be need. New data may very well present new facts.
So many earthshattering blunders have been made by bureaucratic shooting from the hip, particularly considering COVID, it amazes me that these people have not learned any useful lesson about public statements – especially humility – after nearly 650k people have perished from this disease since it emerged last year. How many more fatalities will it take before they figure out that they are the last ones to find out about anything of consequence.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that nobody has learned any valuable lessons from the pandemic. The most important lesson I learned is to do the opposite of CDC’s initial guidance. It said I don’t need to wear a mask after being fully vaccinated. I wear one. Pfizer says it’s working on a booster geared toward the delta variant and the CDC says we don’t need a booster. I don’t want anything to do with COVID: wild type, UK, delta, no matter the strain. I know too many people who had serious health issues shortly after recovering from their initial COVID infection to take my chances. I will go stick out my arm and go through 18 hours of feeling really crappy to avoid it – and the CDC/FDA should not stand in the way of that.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.