Biden administration officials have defended the controversial White House announcement in which it said it was preparing to roll out Covid-19 booster injections to most Americans by September 20 – well before any consideration of the United States Food and Drug Administration and American centers. for disease control and prevention – saying they were just trying to plan ahead.
The announcement sparked a wave of criticism from health experts, including former FDA officials, who told CNN it was unnecessary and improper for the White House to make such an announcement. before the regulators responsible for such decisions.
FDA vaccine advisors are meeting today to discuss the issue of booster injections.
“Let me go back to why we made the announcement in August of what we did. There were two reasons: transparency and planning, ”US surgeon general Vivek Murthy told reporters on Friday.
Administration science leaders, Murthy said, “had said publicly that we were monitoring the data closely, and if we saw a signal that protection was starting to wane and more injections might be needed, we would be transparent. and open to the public about it. That’s one of the reasons we thought it was important to speak up when we saw that signal in the data. ”
“The second reason is planning, you know, if you want to roll out booster shots to the population, you can’t flip a switch and do it overnight. There is significant planning that has to take place with the localities, with state governments, with community organizations. This is why we made an initial plan for this: to allow the time that we have used for a few weeks to do this very important coordination so that the public can be sure that, if and when reminders were needed, they would be there. for them, ”he continued.
Murthy noted that administration officials have always been clear that the plan “would be subject to independent review by the FDA and CDC” and that they would follow that assessment and recommendations.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients suggested the decision to announce the plan publicly was made with the hindsight of the previous administration’s handling of the authorization to use it. vaccine emergency last year.
“In December, when the vaccines were initially cleared for emergency use, there was no solid plan in place, and we saw that there was a lag in terms of gunfire. So we want to make sure we’re ready no matter what the agencies decide, ”Zients said.
As CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen reported, Friday’s scientific back-and-forth comes amid friction between members of the FDA’s vaccine advisers and the Biden administration. FDA advisers told CNN they were upset Biden announced a recall program before government scientists reviewed the data.