The White House push for a September COVID-19 booster shot rollout was at least in part motivated by supply concerns, Politico reports.
Top advisers reportedly encouraged Biden to announce the booster plan in case the U.S. ran "short of doses needed to offer the shots to its entire population if vaccines' protection decreased suddenly," Politico writes, according to the account of two senior officials. The administration wanted to ensure there were enough doses for the 40 percent still in need of their first shot, as well as those who would eventually need some reinforcement.
The deliberations "underscore the extent to which top Biden administration officials were guided by concerns about future American vaccine supply, not just international data on vaccine performance, in developing their vision of a sweeping booster rollout," Politico writes. "No one wants to be the person responsible for not having the doses when we need them," said one individual.
The concern, however, is that by stockpiling even more doses for domestic use, the U.S. will encourage other wealthy countries to follow suit, "tightening an already strained international manufacturing system," and perhaps impacting U.S. donations to low-income countries, Politico writes. Some officials and experts have argued the focus should instead be on ramping up global vaccination rates to prevent the emergence of new variants.
Said Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist: "You basically would have high income and some low-and middle-income countries that would be getting third doses, and then you would have lower-income countries with nothing."
On Friday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted against recommending the use booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 16 and older, instead endorsing a narrower plan to administer extra doses to those 65 and older and those deemed high-risk. Read more at Politico.