At A Glance:
- Pfizer, Moderna preparing for boosters to be available as early as this fall.
- CDC says more evidence needed before weighing in on boosters.
- Vaccine prices to rise dramatically post-pandemic.
Seven months into their vaccine rollout, manufacturers are already shifting attention to boosters. Pfizer had been reporting to investors¹ that boosters would likely be needed 6-12 months after initial doses for their vaccine. Moderna is also turning it’s focus toward the fall and boosters.³ In fact, both are already ramping up and preparing for not only boosters, but annual shots similar to flu vaccines.² Pfizer and Moderna are using waning antibody response as their benchmark to predict when boosters would be needed.
The CDC Weighs In
The CDC doesn’t share the same opinion. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met on June 23. It was stated they would only recommend booster shots if there’s a demonstrated decline in efficacy, not just a waning antibody response. Boosters may also be recommended if there’s a variant for which current vaccines aren’t sufficient.³
According to Sharon Frey, clinical director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University Medical School, “There’s no evidence against declining protection at this time.”³ Ms. Frey also serves as a member of the ACIP for the CDC.
ACIP chair, Dr. Grace Lee, stated more evidence of breakthrough cases is crucial before recommending a booster shot.³ “I would want greater certainty on the safety data if we’re talking about boosting before it’s clear what the risk data will look like,” Lee said. “If we’re seeing severe breakthrough cases then I think the decision-making moves forward even if there’s uncertainty with the safety data.”³
Boosters and Continuing Demand
In February, Pfizer made public plans to test a third shot and to act as a booster to their original vaccine. The FDA has said vaccines that have been adapted to protect against variants will not be required to undergo the same trials. Experts believe that COVID-19 will become similar in nature to a mild, flu-like illness with variants after the pandemic. Thus, the need for annual boosters similar to flu vaccines.⁴
Annual flu vaccine effectiveness ranges from 10-60% and has raised questions over the years.⁵
The Finances of Vaccines
During the pandemic, and under Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer charged the US government $19.50 per dose of their vaccine. In a call with investors in February, Pfizer’s CFO, Frank D’Amelio told investors that when “pandemic pricing wanes,” an adjustment would be expected. The current price is “not a normal price like we typically get for a vaccine—$150, $175 per dose.”⁶ While those numbers may seem high, the CDC price list for vaccines indicates a wide range.
Pfizer expects to sell $15 billion worth of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. That would make it the second-highest revenue-generating drug ever.⁷
Whether boosters are needed this fall, or are held off for a bit, it is likely Moderna and Pfizer’s revenue wouldn’t fall once the pricing is adjusted.
Hold the Phone — Doc’s Thoughts:
We’re not even seven months into the vaccine campaigns and we’re already hearing about booster shots. Not one of the long-term studies has been completed. There have been over 410,000 adverse reactions reported to the CDC VAERS website including almost 6,985 deaths as of June 25. And now we’re talking about giving more of the same vaccines to bodies that have already had 2 doses of this vaccine within a year? Without the same trials required by the FDA that brought us these vaccines?
I’d have to agree with the CDC, we can’t go based on a waning antibody response. Remember, the T Cells and B Cells are the ones that will have the memory of the virus and create an immune response. We don’t want antibodies to continue circulating in the body! That will create an autoimmune response.
When we look at the finances and the talks with investors about raising prices, we remember this is a business. Of course the business would be prepared and ready to roll out the booster program. Of course it makes sense to have annual vaccinations like the flu vaccine.
Because of medical freedoms, we are able to choose not to get the flu shot. I am so grateful, but we must remain vigilant. Informed consent is crucial to our freedoms. People need to have information in their hands to be able to make an educated, informed decision. Without sufficient trials, people don’t have that information. The closest the public has is to look at the number of adverse reactions that have been reported. We need to stand up for our medical freedoms, and we need to exercise informed consent.