(WXYZ) — Dr. Offit is a member of the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. And he wrote a perspective piece that was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
First, I want to point out that he’s not anti-vaccine. Dr. Offit says he’s fully vaccinated and boosted as well. But he is questioning whether or not healthy young people need another booster dose.
He points to data that analyzed serum from people boosted with the bivalent shot and compared it to people boosted with the original booster. The bivalent shot targets not only the original coronavirus strain but also Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. And these tests showed that levels of neutralizing antibodies against BA.4/5 were comparable to the original booster.
This suggests that the new bivalent shot isn’t much more effective than the original booster.
Dr. Offit feels it’s not practical to ask young, healthy people to get boosted with a variant-specific vaccine and then get boosted again months later with a different variant-specific formula. When they are less likely to suffer severe illness or die from COVID-19. And that the updated boosters are best for older adults, those who are immunocompromised or have multiple coexisting conditions.
I support the CDC’s recommendations. But it’s not unrealistic to say that these could potentially change. The FDA vaccine committee is meeting later this month to discuss what the next version of COVID shots should be for the general public. And there's more real-world data available now than when the bivalent shots were first approved.
What I don’t agree with is giving up on trying to prevent symptomatic infections in healthy young people. Telling them they don’t need to get vaccinated might lead them to believe they will not get severe disease or long COVID because it can happen. And they may not take this virus as seriously as they should. This could then cause more spread, which could lead to more older folks getting infected. And they’re the ones most at risk of severe illness and death.
But, I have really good news for our seniors. A new Israeli study found hospitalizations among people 65 and older who got the bivalent booster was reduced by 81%, compared to people who'd gotten at least two vaccinations but not the new vaccine.
So while it’s possible that the new boosters aren’t working wonders in our younger population, the point of the vaccines is not just to prevent deaths but also to prevent severe illness and complications. So, in my opinion, boosters are needed for everyone who is eligible.
Modern medicine can be used for many different ailments. But what happens when it fails or you want to explore alternatives? Can we really cure illness with our minds? The human brain is vastly complex, and there is so much we do not yet understand. In this fascinating episode, Dr. Nandi invites Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist and author of Hardwiring Happiness, to explore alternative styles of physical healing through the mind. Plus, simple practices that can strengthen our physical and psychological immune system from psychologist Dr. Gail Parker. And energy medicine specialist Elaine Grohman talks about the healing properties of touch therapy. Watch “The Healing Power of the Mind” this Sunday, January 15th at 4 pm.