Seeing signs that the effectiveness of its vaccine is fading, Pfizer said Thursday it will ask for approval to distribute a third dose to help fight new coronavirus variants. The company plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization next month, CNN reports. Pfizer cited findings from Israeli health officials that its vaccine's efficacy is declining as the Delta variant of the virus spreads. That syncs with the company's analysis, it said. Pfizer has begun producing the booster shot, per the Wall Street Journal, and wants to start clinical trials in August, saying in a statement that a third shot might be need to be administered six to 12 months after a person has been fully vaccinated for maximum immunity.
Even if the FDA grants the emergency use authorization, a booster shot wouldn't necessarily be made available, per the AP. Health officials would have to agree it's needed. Administering a third dose would be "a huge effort while we are at the moment striving to get people the first dose," said Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University. About 48% of the US population is fully vaccinated. Health officials, worried about the Delta variant causing a surge in cases this fall, are asking Americans to get the shots as soon as possible, per CNBC. Just weeks ago, about one-fourth of new coronavirus infections were attributed to the Delta variant; now it's more than half. (One dose of vaccine is of little use against the Delta variant, a study has found.)