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A health worker prepares a syringe with the Pfizer/BioNTech ComirnatyCOVID-19 vaccine. Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

Pfizer is expected to seek authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to administer a third dose of its coronavirus vaccine to boost immunity and potentially stop the spread of coronavirus variants, according to AP.

Why it matters: Pfizer and BioNTech released the initial results of a study on coronavirus booster shots, finding that a third dose was five to 10 times more effective at neutralizing the virus than two doses.

What they're saying: Pfizer said in a statement the move to seek authorization for a third dose is motivated by "an observed decline in efficacy against symptomatic disease over time" and the emergence of new coronavirus variants, according to ABC News.

  • Pfizer and BioNTech said they're developing an updated version of their coronavirus vaccine based on the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India.

What to watch: They have already begun collecting clinical trial data for the updated vaccine and anticipate starting clinical studies in August, though the companies will need regulator approval before initiating the trials.

The big picture: A new study published in the journal Nature on Thursday found that the Delta variant is able to evade certain antibodies produced by natural infections and vaccines because of mutations to the cell entry mechanisms the virus uses.

  • The researchers also found that one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine "barely" protects against the Delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than other versions of the virus.

Editor's note: This story is breaking. Check back for more details.

Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

CDC: Moderna vaccine most effective against hospitalization in U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Overall healthy adults with the Moderna COVID vaccine had 93% vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization over five months compared to those with 88% protection with Pfizer and 71% from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new report out Friday from the CDC shows.

Why it matters: The report comes as the Food and Drug Administrations meets Friday to consider whether to endorse a contentious plan for booster shots among the fully vaccinated.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Sep 17, 2021 - Health

Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A key FDA advisory committee is meeting today to discuss Pfizer's proposal for a COVID vaccine booster — but it will set the stage for the entire booster debate.

The big question: Not only whether experts believe there’s enough evidence to support boosters, but also whether they believe additional shots should be made available for everyone or limited to older Americans and the immunocompromised.

Updated Sep 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.