FDA Officials ‘Strongly Recommend’ Not to Change Dosing Schedule for CCP Virus Vaccine

Two officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) don’t recommend doses for the CCP virus vaccine to be cut in half in order to stretch the vaccine supply, according to documents.

The FDA announcement comes one day after a U.S. federal official considered giving some people half the dose of Moderna’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine to immunize more people with the doses that are currently available.

“We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Dr. Peter Marks said in a statement.

Hahn and Marks wrote they want to remind people of the importance of receiving CCP virus vaccines according to how they’ve been authorized by the FDA, as Americans who have already been inoculated with the first dose against COVID-19 are now scheduled to receive their second round.

“At this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence,” they wrote. “Without appropriate data supporting such changes in vaccine administration, we run a significant risk of placing public health at risk, undermining the historic vaccination efforts to protect the population from COVID-19.”

Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” over the weekend they

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Dr. Moncef Slaoui, vaccine expert, delivers an update on “Operation Warp Speed” in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

“We know that for the Moderna vaccine, giving half of the dose to people between the ages of 18 and 55, two doses, half the dose, which means exactly achieving the objective of immunizing double the number of people with the doses we have,” Slaoui said. “We know it induces identical immune response” to the full dose, he added.

Last week, health officials in the United Kingdom also decided that delaying the second dose as long as 12 weeks is fine. They said by postponing booster doses they could give more people at least some protection with a first shot. They said unpublished data from the AstraZeneca study suggested waiting a little longer between doses might be better in the long run, but provided no details.

Hahn and Marks said Monday they have followed the debate on changing the dosing schedule to get more vaccines to the public faster, adding that making such changes “are not supported by adequate scientific evidence” and could possibly end up being “counterproductive to public health.”

“What we have seen is that the data in the firms’ submissions regarding the first dose is commonly being misinterpreted. In the phase 3 trials, 98 percent of participants in the Pfizer-BioNTech trial and 92 percent of participants in the Moderna trial received two doses of the vaccine at either a three- or four-week interval, respectively,” they wrote.

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A pharmacist fills a syringe to prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for front-line health care workers at a vaccination site at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. on Dec. 19, 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

“Those participants who did not receive two vaccine doses at either a three-or four-week interval were generally only followed for a short period of time, such that we cannot conclude anything definitive about the depth or duration of protection after a single dose of vaccine from the single dose percentages reported by the companies.”

Hahn and Marks ended the statement by saying they “strongly recommend” health care providers to follow the FDA-authorized dosing schedule for each CCP virus vaccine until vaccine manufacturers have the data and science that supports a change.

The United States has also approved a vaccine from Pfizer, which like Moderna’s requires two shots. Vaccinations have fallen far short of early targets, as officials had hoped to have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2020.

Reuters contributed to this report.