Over the last month, the world continued to make progress in getting Covid shots in arms, but the daily vaccination rate seems to be declining. In a development with worldwide implications, today a U.S. CDC advisory panel recommended booster shots for certain groups who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months ago.
Worldwide, more than 6.03 billion doses have been administered—enough to fully vaccinate 39.2% of the global population according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The latest rate was roughly 31.5 million doses a day. That is down from 39.5 million doses per day on August 9, 2021, the date of my last report.
To see the vaccination statistics for each country visit the site and scroll over any country. Vaccination distribution continues to be very lopsided. Countries and regions with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated more than 20 times faster than those with the lowest. At the current pace, it will take another 6 months to cover 75% of the population, the coverage required to obtain the benefits of a minimum level of herd immunity.
United States Statistics
These are the latest vaccination statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The good news is that 76.7% of the U.S. adult population has had one dose and 66.1% have been fully vaccinated. And the group Covid is hitting hardest, those over age 65, is 93.3% protected by one dose and 83% fully vaccinated. The bad news is that 677,086 Americans have already lost their lives to Covid.
The 65 and over cohort is more in tune with the reality of mortality compared to younger groups and is most at risk. Vaccine hesitancy hasn’t been a major issue for us old folks and we’re supposedly the one’s who are stuck in our ways. I feel like I’ve had a relatively long life but I’m not ready to get taken out by a freaking invisible virus and don’t want to be responsible (knowingly or unknowingly) for someone else losing their life or becoming seriously ill. That’s why I got vaccinated as soon as I could.
In the U.S., 387 million vaccine doses have been administered so far. After briefly surging to more than 1 million vaccines per day during our summer surge of the Delta variant, the daily rate of vaccinations has tapered off to about 750,000 per day in the latest weekly average. That is nearly identical to the average rate on August 9.
The U.S. has now vaccinated almost 55% of the total population compared to 50.4% of the population on August 12. The rest of the world made a much bigger dent in its unvaccinated population going from 29.7% of the global population being vaccinated on August 12 to 39.2% of the global population today. Today’s advice from a CDC advisory panel could upend all of these measurements.
CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
After two days of presentations reviewing scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of a third vaccine dose, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice committee noted that with the Delta variant, public health experts are seeing waning protection against mild and moderate disease over time while vaccine protection against severe disease persists.
In response, the committee released a set of recommendations pertaining to booster shots for those who received the Pfizer vaccine. It voted unanimously to allow people 65 years of age or older and those who live in long-term care facilities to receive a single extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the second dose.
In more contentious votes, the committee also recommended that people aged 50-64 years old with underlying medical conditions get a third shot, and it also endorsed people aged 18 to 49 who have an underlying medical risk having access to another dose. The committee recommends people in the 18 -49 group should consider their individual benefit and risk, possibly in consultation with a medical provider, before they get a Pfizer booster shot.
In a bit of a surprise, the advisory committee voted against recommending boosters for people whose occupations put them at higher risk of infection. This was a rejection of yesterday’s decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to include the groups on the advisory committee’s list and people in high-risk occupations such as healthcare workers, grocery store workers, and first responders.
The advisory committee, FDA and CDC will consider the appropriateness of boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines when those companies compile and submit relevant data. The advisory committee’s recommendation will be reviewed by the CDC director for final action who could adopt or amend the recommendations.
Potential Effects Of The Booster Policy
Like most things Covid related, many of the consequences of the decision to recommend Pfizer boosters are uncertain. Two unquestionable ramifications are that the amount of vaccine pharmaceutical companies will need to produce increased and the amount of excess vaccine the U.S. could share with other countries decreased. The scarcity of first doses in much of the world was one of the main arguments against recommending a third dose for people who already enjoy the benefits of having two doses.
One of the biggest unknowns, at least to me, is the definition of being fully vaccinated. If booster shots are required to prevent getting sick or dying, then being fully vaccinated has an expiration date. That could complicate travel plans unless all countries agree on the appropriate schedule for getting boosters for all vaccines? Among other unknowns are what happens if the expiration date happens while a person is traveling and if booster shots will be required periodically. If boosters are recommended or required, that would seem to complicate the process of keeping track of and reporting vaccination statistics.
No matter how much we’d like for this pandemic to just go away, Covid keeps demonstrating its complete lack of empathy for our desires and conveniences. I received the second Pfizer dose on February 14, 2021. That means I’m eligible for a booster assuming the CDC director adopts the committee’s recommendations. I’ll sign up for a s booster as soon as it gets final approval which should happen in the next few days.