Dr. Rai gives an update on boosters, breakthrough infections

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 7:29 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A committee is set to meet on approval of a booster shot for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“We learned last week that on September 17, the VRBPAC committee--which is the committee of the FDA that approves vaccines--will meet to review the Pfizer data. It’s important to know that decisions will be made three ways: one for Pfizer, one for Moderna and one for J&J,” says Prevea Health President & CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

Dr. Rai joins Action 2 News This Morning each week to give updates on COVID-19 in Wisconsin and progress on treatments to fight the illness.

HOSPITALIZATIONS

“Throughout this newest surge of the pandemic we’ve been carefully watching who’s vaccinated, who’s not when they come into the hospital. The very sick who are coming into the hospital are prominently unvaccinated. There’s the occasional vaccinated person. They either didn’t mount a response to the vaccine, they had severe immune-compromised states--that’s why that population is now getting a third shot--or they were an incidental finding of COVID. Overall, though, our numbers over the weekend so far have been flat, which is a good thing. Hopefully it stays that way. There’s always a little bit of delay with the Labor Day weekend where the numbers are, but right now we look OK. Actually, that rate of rise that we were extremely concerned about two weeks ago is starting to level off a little bit. It doesn’t mean that we’re going downward yet, but it does mean that the rate of rise is slowing down. Hopefully that’s because we’re running into situations where people are wearing more masks, spending more time outside and getting vaccinated. We’ll start to see that, hopefully over the next three-to-six weeks, we’ll start to look out and hopefully we don’t see a spike.”

BOOSTERS

“We learned last week that on September 17, the VRBPAC committee--which is the committee of the FDA that approves vaccines--will meet to review the Pfizer data. It’s important to know that decisions will be made three ways: one for Pfizer, one for Moderna and one for J&J. Be patient. Remember all three got released at different times, too. They’ll review the data for the need for a booster shot. They’ll look at when that should be. Is it six months or eight months, depending on the data? So unfortunately, it could be different answers for all three vaccines. We’ll learn a little bit more on September 17. The earliest that we would start getting approval to give it would be the week of September 20. We’re probably not going to have a line up on September 20, it’s probably going to be a couple days after that to get everything set, get people scheduled and start giving the booster to people who qualify.”

JOHNSON & JOHNSON

“For a long time it’s been hard to find J&J, because they had some production issues. It gains in popularity, especially with the people who just wanted the one and done, one shot and be vaccinated. We ran into a statewide shortage. Now that, over the next few weeks, is supposed to start getting better. So for those who have been holding out, we want to get you vaccinated whenever you’re ready. If you’re holding out for J&J, that should be coming soon.”

TESTING

“All the health systems offer testing, too. It’s important that you check all of them. For us, for example, what we did instead of having a very large testing site again, is move testing to all of our different sites throughout the areas. Some have it throughout the day. Basically, you schedule a test online with MyPrevea.com, you pull up to designated parking spots, you’ll dial a number, we’ll come outside, we will swab you and you’re on your way. You’ll get your results back on your phone. There should be no reason not to get tested now. It’s very important with the mildest of symptoms: that sniffly nose, that scratchy throat. If you’ve been exposed, make sure you’re getting tested.”

BREAKTHROUGH INFECTIONS

“I think there’s a lot of attention towards breakthrough infections because people are concerned that have been vaccinated, or people are using it as a reason to not get vaccinated. What we’re finding out throughout the country is it’s not an easy answer across the board. A lot of different things are giving that breakthrough rate. One of the most important things is your vaccination rate. Areas with higher vaccination rates are seeing less breakthrough. Common sense from that standpoint--the disease doesn’t have an opportunity to spread as much. What we’re also finding out with breakthrough, which was a really good article, but we need more of it, it’s a small study, is that vaccinated individuals who do break through--which is still a very small amount of people--but when they do, their chances of getting long COVID symptoms, which is symptoms past 28 days, is about half than those that are unvaccinated. So getting vaccinated not only prevents severe illness, but it prevents those long COVID symptoms that we were seeing. So it’s a really good reason to go out there and get your shot.”

Copyright 2021 WBAY. All rights reserved.