The U.S Food and Drug Administration's vaccine advisory panel is meeting Friday to consider drug partner Pfizer-BioNTech's application to offer their COVID-19 vaccine as a third-dose booster for patients 16 and older.
In a daylong open meeting, the independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will debate whether a booster dose is safe enough for widespread use and whether it is necessary and effective at improving protection levels against COVID-19.
Earlier this week, Pfizer submitted data to the FDA that it says shows the efficacy of its vaccine diminishes by about six percent every two months following the second dose, making a booster at the six months mark safe and effective at boosting protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
The committee is expected to vote on whether the booster is safe and effective or even necessary later Friday. Their vote will be non-binding — the FDA is not required to follow the panel's recommendations — but they generally do. Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's independent advisory panel will weigh on a more granular level who should get a booster and when.
Elsewhere in the world, France has suspended 3,000 health care workers who were not inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine by a government-mandated September 15 deadline.
Tens of thousands of the country's 2.7 million health workers were unvaccinated in July when President Emmanuel Macron announced the September 15 deadline to have at least one shot of a vaccine.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said most suspended employees worked in support services, while few doctors and nurses were among the suspended.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said early Friday that France has reported more than 7 million COVID cases and more than 116,000 COVID deaths.
In the U.S.
In the U.S. state of Idaho, hospitals have begun rationing care "because the massive increase of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in all areas of the state has exhausted existing resources," the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said in a statement Thursday.
"The situation is dire — we don't have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident," DHW Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement.
The best way to end the rationing "is for more people to get vaccinated," Jeppesen said. "It dramatically reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you do get sick from COVID-19."
Some information for this report was provided by Associated Press and the Reuters news agency.