Spoiler alert: the committee is likely to press the jabs on most adults, and possibly even children. The group is nominally independent, but Dr. Nirav Shah, the CDC deputy director, telegraphed this plan to The New York Times two weeks ago:
Covid can still be nasty even if it doesn’t put you in the hospital. A booster shot will reduce its potency. Shah argues that children (over 6 months old) should also get a Covid shot this fall, even though their own Covid risk is very low.
Which makes this chart, which the CDC buried on page 17 of an 18-page presentation to the committee this morning, even more stunning.
About nine out of 10 Americans over 75 hospitalized this year for Covid have received the mRNA shots. (Not with Covid, for Covid.) Similarly, five out of six Americans aged 65-74 hospitalized for Covid had been jabbed, according to the CDC. And even among adults under 50, two out of three had been vaccinated.
(Orange you glad you didn’t get jabbed? Orange means unvaccinated. Blue means at least two shots, possibly with one booster. The bottom chart is just a more focused view of the top.)
The few mRNA fanatics still around will claim that these numbers are evidence that the bivalent booster last fall worked, because about 45 percent of people over 65 received the bivalent and they made up only about 20 percent of hospitalizations.
But healthy vaccinee bias (the fact that Covid boosters, especially the more recent ones, are taken by a self-selected group of people who are afraid of Covid and generally neurotic about their health) likely accounts for that gap.
The key finding here is that on a population basis two or even three mRNA shots apparently do nothing to help people avoid not just Covid infections but hospitalizations.
The proportions of hospitalized people are virtually identical to overall jab rates - despite healthy vaccinee bias, which should make them look better. (The CDC claims that about 93 percent of adults have received at least one mRNA jab, but that estimate appears badly overstated because states and the agency misclassify a large number of boosters as new shots. Self-reported data show that about 25 percent of adults have not received any jabs.)
Meanwhile, studies of booster doses show their impact on Omicron variants is minor and transient, lasting a couple of months at most. On the other hand, the long-term impact of repeated doses of modified mRNA is unknown.
So why on earth - aside from buffering the profits of Pfizer and Moderna or a simple unwillingness to admit defeat - would anyone recommend more shots?
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