FDA to debate Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters this week


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The FDA is getting ready to hear arguments for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine boosters later this week.

So far, Pfizer is the furthest ahead in its booster authorization with the immunocompromised, people at high risk for infection and exposure are already allowed to get their third dose.

Moderna said in documents submitted to the FDA, that its booster would be half the dose of their original shot. The company said it created the same increase in protective antibodies as a full dose.

“We can talk about shades of protection with maybe this vaccine is slightly better when measured this way versus this other vaccine. All the ones that are out there that people are getting are effective,” said Dr. Tony Moody with Duke Health.

Moderna said using a half dose would free up more supply worldwide too.

“I entirely agree with helping us provide immunizations around the world, because that protects us by decreasing the likelihood of variants and it certainly helps them by protecting people,” said Dr. Davis Weber with the UNC School of Medicine.

Johnson & Johnson recommends their second shot be the same dosing. They have submitted data to the FDA showing an increase in protection at the two- and six-month booster mark.

In a briefing document, the FDA said some studies suggest falling efficacy of the vaccines over time or due to the Delta variant. However, it also said the vaccines still afforded protection against severe disease and death.

“Tetanus vaccines work but they don’t last forever. You do have to get a booster. Flu vaccines work, although the year-to-year efficacy maybe isn’t as high as we would like it to be. But you know, you still need to get a booster every year,” said Moody.

Boosters are getting a lot of attention but Moody said the focus should remain on the unvaccinated.

“Most of the people who are dying, or having severe disease, are people who are unvaccinated and I think the numbers are just really clear,” said Moody.

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