The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in:
- individuals 65 years of age and older;
- individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and
- individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.
The authorization applies only to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and was announced on September 22, 2021 in a press release.
Comirnaty (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA), was approved by the FDA on Aug. 23, for the prevention of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 in individuals 16 years of age and older. On Aug. 25, 2021, the FDA received a supplement from Pfizer Inc. to their biologics license application for Comirnaty seeking approval of a single booster dose to be administered approximately six months after completion of the primary vaccination series for individuals 16 years of age and older.
As part of the FDA’s commitment to transparency, the agency convened a public meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) on Sept. 17 to solicit input from independent scientific and public health experts on the data submitted in the application. During the meeting, the vaccine manufacturer presented information and data in support of its application.
The FDA also presented its analysis of clinical trial data submitted by the vaccine manufacturer. Additionally, the public was also given an opportunity to provide comment; and FDA invited international and U.S. agencies and external groups, including representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Health, the University of Bristol, U.K. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to present recent data on the use of vaccine boosters, epidemiology of COVID-19, and real-world evidence on vaccine effectiveness.
The FDA considered the data that the vaccine manufacturer submitted, information presented at the VRBPAC meeting, and the committee’s discussion, and has determined that based on the totality of the available scientific evidence, a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of a booster dose outweigh the known and potential risks in the populations that the FDA is authorizing for use. The booster dose is authorized for administration to these individuals at least six months following completion of their primary series and may be given at any point after that time.
It’s important to note that the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is the same formulation as the FDA-approved Comirnaty and the vaccines may be used interchangeably.
To support the authorization for emergency use of a single booster dose, the FDA analyzed safety and immune response data from a subset of participants from the original clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. In addition, consideration was given to real-world data on the vaccine’s efficacy over a sustained period of time provided by both U.S. and international sources, including the CDC, the UK and Israel.
The immune responses of approximately 200 participants 18 through 55 years of age who received a single booster dose approximately six months after their second dose were assessed. The antibody response against SARS-CoV-2 virus one month after a booster dose of the vaccine compared to the response one month after the two-dose primary series in the same individuals demonstrated a booster response.