The White House is doing damage control on its rhetoric promoting COVID-19 booster shots after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected the administration’s plan to roll out extra shots for all Americans.
An FDA panel overwhelmingly voted on Friday against the Biden administration’s plan to implement booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to people as young as 16 years old after they found there was not enough evidence to support extra shots for every age group. The White House previously planned to move forward with supplemental jabs for adults beginning as early as the White House’s Sept. 20 deadline, but only got the green light from the FDA to begin emergency approval Pfizer booster shots for people 65 and older or at high risk for a severe case of the virus.
This pressure from the Democrat president and his administration to approve a “premature and unnecessary” plan that scientific data does not conclusively back up, reports indicated, caused strife within the regulatory agency and even pushed several high-profile FDA officials to resign before penning a strongly worded letter urging against the boosters.
Dr. Anthony Fauci previously claimed “there’s very little doubt that the boosters will be beneficial” and said it “would be a mistake” if the FDA committee didn’t vote in favor of the administration’s plan.
“If they say, ‘We don’t think there’s enough data to do a booster,’ then so be it. I think that would be a mistake, to be honest with you,” Fauci said last week.
Fauci changed his tune to support the committee on Sunday when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him to clarify his stance.
“No, I mean, I – you know, what I was saying that mistake, my own personal looking at this, again, just because I look at the data and say I would do it this way, that’s the reason why we have qualified groups of people who together as a committee examine all the data and make a decision,” Fauci said. “So I have no problem at all with their decision. The thing that I’m saying is that data will continue to come in and I believe you’re going to see an evolution of this process as we go on in the next several weeks to months.”
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins similarly tried to downplay the FDA’s rejection of the White House’s rushed plan by claiming that the implementation of boosters for older populations is still a win for the administration.
“Back during the campaign, [Biden] talked a lot about ‘follow the science.’ Isn’t announcing a specific date and a specific plan for the general population before any of the regulars — the FDA, the CDC — have approved it, isn’t that the exact opposite of ‘follow the science’?” Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked.
“They did encourage, and vote for, the administration of boosters to people over 65, and those at high risk of exposure,” Collins noted. He went on to claim that “those are the people who would be most likely to reach that eight-month period” and that he doesn’t “think there’s huge differences here.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced on Monday that President Joe Biden will get a booster shot soon and “he will do so on camera.”
Will the president get a booster shot? @PressSec says "he will do so, and he will do so on camera." She adds that Biden is tested regularly for COVID, and "he was tested last weekend."
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) September 20, 2021