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Coronavirus

US FDA vaccine advisers vote against COVID-19 booster shot approval

The panel voted overwhelmingly against approving boosters for Americans age 16 and older, potentially undermining the Biden administration’s plan to roll out third shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as next week.

Published: Updated:

A panel of expert outside advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted against approving COVID-19 booster shots for Americans, but may vote on a narrower approval for older adults later on Friday.

The panel voted overwhelmingly against approving boosters for Americans age 16 and older, potentially undermining the Biden administration’s plan to roll out third shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as next week.

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The FDA will take the panel’s recommendation into consideration in making its decision on the boosters. But it can reject the advice as it did recently in approving Biogen controversial Alzheimer’s drug.

Many committee members were critical of the booster plan, arguing that the data presented by Pfizer and the FDA is incomplete and that the request for approval for people as young 16 years old is too broad. Most of them said they would support boosters for older Americans, but did not think they were needed yet for younger adults.

Top FDA members have been split on the necessity of the boosters, with interim head Janet Woodcock backing them and some of the agency’s top scientists arguing they are not needed yet.

If the FDA goes ahead and approves the booster, a separate panel advising the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet next week to recommend which groups should get them.

The White House said it was ready to roll out boosters next week if health officials approve the plan.