WASHINGTON, April 29, Reuters - Scientists and health officials should know what type of COVID 19 booster is needed to deal with the next phase of the epidemic and when it should be administered, top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday.
The National Institutes of Health, where Fauci serves as the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is conducting clinical studies to determine whether the next COVID booster should be specific to a particular variant of the coronavirus or designed to address more than one variant, known as a bivalent vaccine, ahead of the fall season.
Fauci said over the summer when we'll be able to boost people, we'll probably know when we'll be able to, and what we're going to be able to boost, at a virtual event hosted by the National Press Club in Washington.
According to Fauci, health experts are looking carefully into anecdotal reports that some people after taking a five-day course of Pfizer Inc's oral antiviral treatment Paxlovid have tested positive for the coronaviruses or had mild symptoms.
The government has been encouraging people with severe disease to get a Paxlovid prescription as soon as possible.
Fauci said that 90 % of the effectiveness of the drug seems to be holding strong, even though the health officials look into whether a viral rebound is a real phenomenon. Fauci said it would be very difficult for the U.S. population to reach classical herd immunity against this virus due to several factors. They include its ability to evolve and mutate into diverse variants, waning immunity from infections and vaccines, and an anti-vaccine movement that has kept millions of people from seeking protection.
He said that it is unlikely that the United States will ever eliminate COVID - 19, but the nation should try to control the virus and get out of the acute pandemic phase.
He stated that if we are no longer in that fulminant acute phase, that does not mean that the epidemic is over. We are still experiencing a global epidemic.