As pressure builds for the FDA to simply 'get on with it' and issue full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs, it looks like the people responsible for deciding whether vaccines are safe and effective are finally coming around to the reality that those vaccines aren't as effective against the delta strain as they had once hoped.
Despite months of insisting that the opposite was true, the FDA has found that the efficacy of the jabs has fallen to 84% over six months, according to new data released Wednesday. Conveniently, STAT News, which broke the story about the data, reported that the lower efficacy would likely bolster Pfizer's case for approval of a third dose.
Per the data, which has been released to outside scientists, the ongoing study, which enrolled more than 44K volunteers, found that the vaccine's efficacy appeared to decline by an average of 6% every two months after administration. Efficacy peaked at more than 96% within two months of vaccination and slipped to 84% after six months.
The overall efficacy against severe disease was a still considerable 97% (though that's still not 100%).
Unsurprisingly, STAT lined up a few talking heads to plug the numbers. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told STAT that the results were "very reassuring." The potential need for booster shots is tied to the number of fully vaccinated people who develop severe disease, Offit said. That number is just 3% lower after six months, suggesting two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine offers adequate protection.
Earlier, Pfizer boosted its fiscal year revenue forecast for its vaccine business. Perhaps these data offer some insight into that decision.
Of course, there's reason to believe that number might be even lower than the 97%.
Israel's Ministry of Health recently found that the Pfizer vaccine is only 39% effective at combating delta, down from 64% according to earlier Israeli data intended to measure the efficacy against the delta variant.
Pfizer is already shipping jabs to Israel, which is preparing to start doling out booster shots to residents deemed vulnerable to COVID. For whatever reason, the data released Wednesday doesn't directly address the delta variant.
Readers can find the data below: