Dr. Rochelle Valensky, Elected Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at an event at the Queen’s Theater on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Susan Walsh | AP
CDC Director Rochelle Valensky claimed Friday that she did not overrule the Vaccine Advisory Board by expanding officials’ approval for Pfizer’s COVID booster to include proposals rejected by the panel.
In a rare move, Warrensky stepped down from the CDC’s Immunization Implementation Advisory Board. The committee voted on Thursday against approving vaccines for people in high-risk infected environments. Warrensky has adopted three other recommendations from the panel to distribute the third shot to all individuals with an underlying disease and those over the age of 65. He said the final vote to approve additional doses for teachers, health care workers and other critical staff was a “scientific close call.”
“I want to be very clear that I did not dismiss the advisory board,” Warensky said Friday at a Whitehouse COVID briefing. “I listened to all of the FDA advisory board minutes and discussed some of these very difficult questions publicly and very transparently and where there is science, it is exceptionally scientific. Listened to the group enthusiastically.”
Warensky’s directive is in close agreement with the Food and Drug Administration’s Wednesday decision on the booster. The agency also opposed the advice of a panel of scientific advisors by approving shots for a wider audience than those approved by the vaccine and associated Biopharmaceutical Advisory Board.
“It was a close scientific call,” Warensky said, citing the two-day-long meeting and lively discussion. “That was my call. If I was in the room, I would have voted in favor,” Warensky said in the split vote.
He sought to reassure public confidence by encouraging people to return and listen to the deliberations of the Commission. “We did it publicly, transparently and with some of the best scientists in the country,” she said.
President Joe Biden said the CDC’s recommendations expanded boosters to nearly 60 million Americans, including teachers, health care workers and supermarket workers, at a briefing Friday morning. Verensky said the comprehensive booster standards better protect front-line workers and explain vaccination disparities that affect people of color.
“I also believe that this pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority communities,” Warensky said. “Many of our frontline workers, essential workers, and people attending meetings come from communities that have already been hardest hit.”
She said refraining from using boosters in these groups would only exacerbate the pandemic disparity, with black and Hispanic COVID patients dying at higher rates than whites.
According to the CDC, more than 55% of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, and more than 2.4 million people have been given boosts since the official-approved boosters for individuals with weakened immune systems on Aug. . Growth.
Valensky said the agency will work to quickly evaluate booster data from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in the coming weeks.
“CDC will have several advisory boards to consider on many future decisions, including Moderna, J&J and Pediatric Immunization,” Walensky said.