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NIH director expects booster shots to be expanded, despite recommendation

The Hill logo The Hill 9/19/2021 Joseph Choi
a man wearing glasses and a blue shirt: NIH director expects booster shots to be expanded, despite recommendation © Getty Images NIH director expects booster shots to be expanded, despite recommendation

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on Sunday that it would "surprise" him if COVID-19 booster shot aren't expanded, despite a recommendation from a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel advising against widespread use.

"I think the big news is that they actually did approve the initiation of boosters, and, remember, they're taking a snapshot of right now. We're going to see what happens in the coming weeks," Collins said while appearing on "Fox News Sunday." "It would surprise me if it does not become clear over the next few weeks that administration of boosters may need to be enlarged."

"Based upon the data that we've already seen both in the U.S. and in Israel, it's clear that waning of the effectiveness of those vaccines is a reality, and we need to respond to it," he added.


Video: Collins expects FDA to expand booster recommendation in "coming weeks" (CBS News)

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On Friday, an advisory panel voted to recommend that the FDA authorize a third booster shot of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for people over the age of 65 and others who are at a high risk for COVID-19. However, the panel voted against recommending a booster shot for everyone over the age of 16.

When asked by host Chris Wallace on Sunday if he felt a booster shot would be needed by everyone, Collins he wasn't sure it would be necessary for "absolutely everyone" but reiterated that he would be "surprised" if boosters are not recommended for people under 65 in the coming weeks.

"What you're seeing here is science playing out in a very transparent way. This is the way it ought to be," Collins added.

"I'm a little troubled that people are complaining that the process isn't working for them. The process is to look at the data, have the experts consider it and then make their best judgment at that point, recognizing that the judgments may change," he said.

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