Dr. Anthony Fauci hasn’t ruled out that Americans might have to receive a COVID-19 booster shot every year in a bid to ward off infection.
He told CNN’s coronavirus town hall on Wednesday night that it was still too early to tell if an annual booster shot would be needed as more variants of the virus emerge.
“The honest answer is we don’t know what’s going to be required,” President Biden’s chief medical advisor admitted.
“I hope we get a durability protection from the boost that we won’t have to be chasing all the time against the new variant, but that just remains to be seen.”
Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said his team is looking at how a booster shot can elevate antibodies to “high levels” and “induce a degree of affinity maturation.”
“[That’s] a big word to mean that you really get the immune response to get a much greater breadth and a much greater strength so that we maybe don’t have to boost every eight months, nine months,” he said.
His comments came just hours after he confirmed the first US case of the new Omicron variant after it was detected in California in a traveler returning from South Africa.
Fauci went on to defend the travel bans that were put in place on eight Southern African countries last week before the variant was detected in the US, telling the CNN town hall he “felt really badly.”
“It was a very difficult choice to make because we had no idea what was going on when you saw what was coming out,” he said.
“So we felt it was better to be safe than sorry.”
It comes as Biden was set to kick off a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots on Thursday as he unveils his winter plans for combating the virus and Omicron.
The plan includes a requirement for private insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests and a tightening of testing requirements for people entering the US regardless of their vaccination status.
Officials have said Biden has no plans to impose additional restrictions beyond his recommendations that Americans wear masks indoors in public settings.
With Post wires