Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser on the future of COVID-19 vaccination and how to prevent the next pandemic
A week after FDA and CDC advisory committees clashed on the nuances of when and whether to recommend COVID-19 booster shots, Anthony Fauci told my colleague Ed Yong that he still believes third doses of the mRNA vaccines are crucial, suggesting once again that they will eventually be part of a standard regimen.
As those committees deliberated, the experts considered qualitative evidence on the shots’ safety and efficacy, but also kept getting stuck on two larger conceptual questions. First: What, exactly, is the point of offering third shots? Skeptics of large-scale boosting argue that the COVID-19 vaccines were designed to prevent severe hospitalization and death, while third shots seem more likely to offer (temporary) protection against infection and mild disease. In their view, boosting wouldn’t offer any meaningful gains. “I reject that,” Fauci, who serves as Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said at The Atlantic Festival today. “I think we should be preventing people from getting sick from COVID even if they don’t wind up in the hospital.”