Lotta heavy breathing on the ol’ Twitter machine this afternoon about this New York Post headline, and understandably so. Or rather, it would be understandable if it was accurate. Which it isn’t.
“Every 5 months” implies recurring shots, booster after booster unto death, and “requiring” implies a mandate of some sort. I don’t hear any of that in Biden’s comments below. What he’s talking about is whether the third shots for vaccinated Americans that are expected to be authorized in September should happen eight months after the second dose, which is what the CDC initially announced, or sooner. Sources told the WSJ a few days ago that the administration was considering shortening the recommended waiting period to six months instead. Biden confirms here that there’s a discussion ongoing about that. That’s what’s newsy about his comments, not the prospect of mandatory regular boosters every five months forever.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) August 27, 2021
The Post’s own transcription of Biden’s comments has nothing about requiring shots every five months: “The question raised is should it be shorter than eight months? Should it be as little as five months? That’s being discussed. I spoke with Dr. Fauci this morning about that.” I’m glad he did, as six months makes more sense than eight.
In fact, I can guarantee you that they’re not considering regular boosters every five months, for two reasons. One: Based on the huge surge of antibodies produced by a third shot, doctors like Scott Gottlieb seem to believe that a third dose will provide more durable immunity than two will. There’s even been speculation that the third is the last dose someone will need. Circumstantial evidence already suggests that waiting longer than three or four weeks between the first and second dose has produced more robust immunity in populations like the UK’s, where several months elapsed between the first two doses. If it’s true that waiting leads to more complex and powerful immunity, the third dose should leave recipients with solid protection for awhile. Maybe forever.
Two: Biden’s administration is taking a beating in the media from scientists and outfits like the WHO for not doing more to share the vaccine wealth with the rest of the world. The only way to meaningfully reduce the risk of a killer new variant arising is to make sure everyone is vaccinated — “everyone” meaning everyone on the planet, not everyone in the U.S. Diverting doses to the United States for boosters instead of sending them abroad is a questionable decision considering the two-dose regimen continues to provide strong protection against severe illness here. Biden’s own former COVID czar, Andy Slavitt, argued this afternoon that America needs to do better on sending vaccines overseas:
But keeping up the pace means vaccinating Africans with blinding efficiency & high priority.
In 40 African nations, fewer than 10% of the population has yet to receive their first dose. 6/
— Andy Slavitt 🇺🇸💉 (@ASlavitt) August 27, 2021
So if all the wealthy nations use their 3rd shots now, even with blinding efficiency, February becomes May— a month past the target the world needs to hit.
The moral failure & scientific failure of missing this better goal is unacceptable. 13/
— Andy Slavitt 🇺🇸💉 (@ASlavitt) August 27, 2021
There’s no scenario in which the feds decide to divert another 200 million doses next year for a fourth shot for Americans while doctors are scrambling to get the entirety of Asia and Africa vaccinated. Unless the third dose is a bust, we’ll have to make do for awhile with whatever degree of immunity three doses provides. And if the third dose ends up not providing durable immunity, why would anyone think a fourth would help much?
While we’re on the subject of vaccination, the CDC published a new study this afternoon that’s aptly summarized by this graphic:
New @CDCMMWR finds #DeltaVariant can spread rapidly in schools with unvaccinated staff & students. Get a #COVID19 #vaccine. If you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, wear a mask in public indoor spaces in areas with high or substantial spread. https://t.co/n0QaAcHudP pic.twitter.com/rY8nLbHGu3
— CDC (@CDCgov) August 27, 2021
Back in May, all staffers except at a school in California were vaccinated except for two teachers. One of those two came into work for three days straight *while symptomatic* with nasal congestion and fatigue (but before she knew she had COVID) and ended up reading aloud to her class at times, unmasked for some reason. The students were spaced out and some/most wore masks but all were too young to be eligible for vaccination. Result: Eight of the 10 kids in the two front rows ended up testing positive. In a saner world, all teachers would have already been under a vaccine mandate by May, especially those teaching classes with kids who can’t get their shots yet. As things stand now, though, with a much more contagious variant prevalent and even major teachers’ unions endorsing mandates, there’s no reason every private school and public-school district in the country shouldn’t be making vaccination a condition of employment. If a teacher doesn’t care enough about their students to do what they can to protect them from infection, tell them to hit the bricks.
I’ll leave you with this new interview with CDC chief Rochelle Walensky, who’s decided to take a break from her agency’s incompetent handling of COVID and confusing public messaging to branch out into lecturing about gun violence. “The CDC has a serious credibility crisis with a significant partisan divide right now, and I cannot imagine how jamming the gun control debate into it is going to help,” Rory Cooper said this morning. I couldn’t agree more. If the feds are worried about right-wingers ignoring scientific expertise during the pandemic — and they should be — this is the last thing they should be doing at the moment.
"I'm not here about gun control. I'm here about preventing gun violence and gun death," @CDCDirector Dr. Rachelle Walensky says about her plan to reduce gun violence in the United States.https://t.co/mW3Dbu4Vyx pic.twitter.com/S0JIdJ3mpd
— New Day (@NewDay) August 27, 2021