By Ahmed Aboulenein
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US government’s plan to offer booster shots against Covid-19 will likely begin this month with just the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a more restrictive initiative than initially anticipated, said a source familiar with the subject this Friday.
President Joe Biden had hoped to launch a Sept. 20 campaign to give 100 million booster shots, but US vaccine makers, except Pfizer, were slow to seek authorization for an additional dose.
Moderna only began sending data for regulatory approval of a booster dose on Wednesday, and said this Friday that it had completed its order.
An expert panel that advises the US regulatory agency on vaccines plans to meet on Sept. 17 to discuss additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. It is unclear whether the agency will have enough time to review Moderna’s request before the meeting.
Johnson & Johnson has yet to ask regulators to approve a booster for its single-dose vaccine, and last week it said it was in discussions with the FDA on the matter.
As Delta variant infections increase, the Biden government is concerned that Covid cases among fully vaccinated people are a sign that vaccine protection is waning. The government mandated the booster dose as a way to rebuild immunity.
(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; additional reporting by Michael Erman in New Jersey, Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason in Washington)
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