COVID-19 booster not forgone conclusion if vaccine goals are met, Dr. Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s not convinced that COVID-19 booster shots will be needed anytime soon.

While the duration of the current vaccine’s effectiveness is still to be determined, Fauci told Washington Post Live that if the country meets President Joe Biden’s vaccination goal of 70% of adults receiving their first dose by July 4,” I don’t think we should be worried.”

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said previous surges came before any vaccines were in use: “There will be enough protection in the community that I really don’t foresee there being a risk of a surge.”

While certain aspects of the pandemic remain unclear, Fauci said it is clear the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines successfully prevent people from getting dangerously sick from coronavirus.

“As highly effective as these vaccines are, and you get a substantial portion of the population vaccinated, the chances of there being a surge are extraordinarily low,” Fauci said, although he said “you don’t want to declare victory, prematurely.”

Fauci said researchers are measuring antibody levels in early trial participants, and doctors are monitoring whether already-vaccinated participants get “breakthrough” infections. And, booster shots are being developed, since antibody levels typically drop slightly, eventually.

However, Fauci said emphatically: “I really don’t think it’s accurate to say that we will need boosters X number of months from now.”

While many were confused about recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully-vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks, Fauci said that was not true for everyone.

People with compromised immune systems “may need to take an extra step to protect themselves, which means they may need to continue to wear masks,” said Fauci.

The risk is especially high for transplant patients “who are usually rather severely immunosuppressed to prevent the rejection of their transplant.”

Fauci said people with compromised immune systems will likely have to continue wearing masks indoors, “where there’s the possibility, if not the likelihood, that they may come into contact with an unvaccinated, infected individual.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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