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A nurse administering a booster shot of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 19 in Pasadena, Calif. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer told the FDA Wednesday that data from its clinical trials suggests a third shot of its coronavirus vaccine may be necessary six months after the second dose because of waning efficacy.

Why it matters: The FDA's advisory committee on Friday is expected to review Pfizer's clinical trials and other supporting and conflicting data on coronavirus booster shots and make recommendations on whether more Americans 16 years and older should receive an extra dose.

By the numbers: Pfizer data from its trials showed that the efficacy of its coronavirus vaccine, which it developed with BioNTech, degrades by around 6% every two months after the second dose, increasing the likelihood of breakthrough cases.

  • The company said data from an analysis of breakthrough cases also suggested that they were more common among people who had received their second dose earlier than others.
  • The drop in effectiveness was "due to waning of vaccine immune responses" and not the Delta variant of the virus escaping the protection offered by the vaccine, Pfizer said.

The other side: International public health experts — including two FDA vaccine leaders who are leaving the agency this year — wrote a new paper published in The Lancet this week that booster doses are not necessary for the general public right now, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

  • They said current evidence suggests that vaccines are still extremely effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19 and that the doses used for booster shots would save more lives by inoculating populations that are currently unvaccinated.
  • The experts did support booster shots for immunocompromised people.

The big picture: The Biden administration announced last month that it hoped to give everyone a booster shot eight months after their second dose starting the week of Sept. 20. But the plan has received pushback from some scientists inside the FDA, which will hold a vaccine advisory committee meeting Friday on whether it should approve a third Pfizer dose.

  • The World Health Organization, however, is currently strongly opposed to developed nations offering extra doses to their general public while developing countries struggle to procure enough doses for their citizens.
  • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on developed countries last week to forgo booster shots through the end of the year.
  • The Biden administration has argued that additional shots are needed to curb the spread of the virus in the U.S. and that developed countries can both administer boosters and deliver doses to developing countries.

Go deeper: Israel preparing for potential second round of coronavirus booster shots

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state the Biden administration's current plan for boosters would begin eight months after the first dose. Additional details on the plan have also been added.

Go deeper

Dec 24, 2021 - World

Biden to lift travel restrictions on southern African countries

Travelers arrive at Miami International Airport ahead of the long holiday week-end of Memorial Day in Miami on May 26, 2021. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The White House will lift the travel restrictions it imposed on eight African countries last month after the Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa, White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz said on Friday.

Driving the news: The restrictions will end on Dec. 31, according to Munoz. He said the decision to lift travel restrictions was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Updated Dec 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Omicron surge and storms disrupt air travel for 4th straight day

Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Another 1,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. on Monday due to COVID-19 outbreaks among crews for a fourth straight day, with storms in the Pacific Northwest adding to the chaos, AP reports.

Why it matters: Thousands of customers have been affected by the latest pandemic-driven travel disruptions since Christmas Eve, with airlines including United blaming a "nationwide spike in Omicron cases" in recent days.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.