In a rebuke to the Biden administration’s announcement that it would be rolling out COVID-19 booster shots for adults during the week of September 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) outside advisory panel has rejected, in a 16-2 vote, Pfizer’s application for approval of its vaccine as a booster. The panel was only willing to approve the booster for people 65 and older or at high risk of severe COVID-19 illness. The FDA is not obliged to follow the panel’s recommendation, but usually does.
From the start, Biden’s mid-August announcement hardly seemed to be motivated by “the science.” Multiple reports show that career Centers for Disease Control and FDA officials opposed the announcement as premature and not supported by the evidence. Two senior FDA officials resigned the agency and signed on as coauthors of a Lancet article that argued the evidence does not currently support booster shots. Moreover, they claimed that until there was adequate data and analysis, administering boosters risked side effects that could undermine public confidence in vaccinations.
This is just the latest setback for an administration that claimed it would “follow the science,” but more often seems motivated by political considerations.