WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is considering whether to expand second coronavirus booster shots to adults under 50 in an effort to counter the newest, highly contagious variant, which has driven up hospitalization rates and deepened worries about waning immunity amongst those vaccinated or boosted not less than six or so months ago.
Expanding eligibility for a fourth dose of vaccine to younger adults would require regulatory approval; more discussions with officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected in the approaching days, based on people conversant in the situation.
The administration decided in March to supply second booster doses to everyone 50 or older, together with some younger individuals who’ve immune deficiencies. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, a number one infectious disease expert and the chief medical adviser to the White House, has forcefully argued for broadening eligibility to all younger adults.
Two federal officials said that Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House coordinator for the pandemic response, also favors that approach. The discussions were reported earlier by The Washington Post.
In an interview on Monday, Dr. Fauci said there was not enough clinical data to strongly recommend that those under 50 get a second booster shot. But he said many in that age group received their last shot in November or December, so their protection against the virus is waning.
Even though it is as much as the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. to come to a decision, Dr. Fauci said, “I believe there ought to be flexibility and permissiveness in not less than allowing” a second booster for younger adults.
Other federal officials seem more skeptical and anxious to see more data to justify the choice. Some have argued that the administration ought to be trying harder to influence Americans to just accept the initial round of Covid vaccines, reasonably than pursuing diminishing advantages with those that are already not less than somewhat protected.
There are also concerns that by promoting second boosters for all adults now, the administration could weaken its argument for reformulated booster shots in the autumn, when it hopes to supply boosters that higher combat the newest versions of the virus. The F.D.A. recently really helpful that the vaccines be redesigned to raised combat the fast-spreading Omicron variants of BA.4 and BA.5.
The June 30 decision got here just two days after the agency’s committee of independent vaccine experts overwhelmingly voted for regulators to pursue more advanced vaccines tailored to types of Omicron, an acknowledgment that the present shots may now not be as protective by the point a possible fall or winter surge arrives.
The 2 most up-to-date Omicron subvariants have driven up rates of hospitalization and death, though each remain far lower than at the peak of the winter Omicron wave. The identical subvariants have sent hospital admissions climbing in Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium and Israel.
The White House has scheduled a news briefing for Tuesday on the state of the pandemic and the threats posed by the newest Omicron subvariants.