HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new study at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston shows a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine greatly increases antibodies.
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The study had UTMB, Pfizer and BioNTech scientists tracking the immune response of people in clinical trials. The team found that the neutralizing antibody levels, which is the key protective immunity, did drop significantly over a seven to nine-month span after the two-dose vaccination.
The team also found that after getting a third dose, the neutralizing antibody levels increased several times higher than after the second dose. The study shows the third dose increased the antibody's ability to block variants more efficiently, including the beta and delta COVID variants.
While this new find may make the booster shot appealing to many, on Friday, an influential federal advisory panel soundly rejected a plan to offer Pfizer booster shots against COVID-19 to most Americans. The vote, 61-3, was a blow to President Joe Biden's administration's effort to shore up people's protection against the virus amid the highly contagious delta variant.
Over several hours of discussion, members of the Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts argued that Pfizer had provided little data on the safety of extra doses.
President Biden's top health advisers, including the heads of the FDA and CDC, first announced plans for widespread booster shots a month ago, targeting the week of Sept. 20. It said boosters would be dispensed eight months after the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The U.S. has already approved Pfizer and Moderna boosters for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients.
Some Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by showing up and asking for a shot. And some health systems already are offering extra doses to high-risk people.