FDA panel will examine safety of Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot


SAN DIEGO – A panel of experts will decide Friday whether or not to advise the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the Pfizer booster shot against COVID-19 for those ages 16 and older.

But getting the approval might not be a slam dunk with some controversy on the topic already.

Dr. Mark Sawyer, a local infectious disease expert at Rady Children’s Hospital who sits on the the panel, told FOX 5 Wednesday he believes much of the discussion will be about safety.

“The FDA committee is going to seriously look at the safety data of a third dose,” Sawyer said. “Do we know whether the side effects of a third dose are the same as after a second dose? Or are they worse? Or are they better?”

Some top heath officials argue the average person doesn’t need a booster yet and that initial doses of the shot still are needed across the globe.

Pfizer said data shows booster shots would increase immunity against the highly-contagious delta variant, and President Joe Biden already has announced plans to roll out Pfizer boosters to the public by this month.

The talk of boosters come as the delta variant remains a top concern.

“One way to improve that immune response is to give another dose of the vaccine because when you do that your immune system responds again and jacks up your antibody levels to a higher level,” Sawyer said.

He is still reviewing the scientific data before Friday’s meeting. But he wants to remind everyone, the first two shots are key — or one shot if taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Boosters are great for people who are already vaccinated, but until we get those who have not been vaccinated to at least get vaccinated for the first time, we’re still going to have problems with COVID,” he said.

If the Pfizer booster is approved the next step would be the CDC, which would decide who gets the booster and when they should get it.

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