All Americans may soon qualify for a COVID-19 booster shot, according to multiple media reports, as the number of new cases continues to rise above pre-vaccination levels. 

Biden administration officials said that all Americans who are at least 12 years old will need an extra dose eight months after completing their initial round of vaccination, according to the New York Times.  

The officials also reportedly said that the rollout of boosters likely will be similar to the first round of immunizations; vaccines will be available first to health care workers and nursing-home residents, then the elderly, and finally the general public. People will likely be given the same type of vaccine that they already received.

The administration has not formally confirmed that it will encourage Americans to get a booster shot; however, The Wall Street Journal reported that the announcement could happen this week. 

The official perspective on boosters is changing so fast it can be hard to keep up with new developments.

Only a month ago, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and the Food and Drug Administration jointly stated an extra dose is unnecessary. National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins told staff the same thing that week.

But the current surge in cases and hospitalizations and emerging data about the real-world effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc.

and Moderna Inc.

has bolstered the argument for extra dosing. 

Last week, the U.S. said some people with weakened immune systems can get an extra shot.

And already this week, Pfizer submitted early-stage clinical data to U.S. regulators that found giving clinical-trial participants a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine helped boost neutralizing antibody levels in those individuals. (The drug maker said Phase 3 data is coming “shortly.”)

The delta variant, which was first detected in India and is at least twice as contagious as the original strain of the virus, is behind the current surge in the U.S. It’s also what caused the outbreak in Cape Cod and Provincetown that gained national attention because so many people who were vaccinated ended up testing positive for the virus.

Here’s what the U.S. numbers say

The seven-day moving average is 108,470 cases per day and 495 deaths per day, as of Aug. 14, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 168.7 million people in the U.S., or 50.8% of the total population, are now fully vaccinated, as of Aug. 16. Seventy percent of the people who qualify for the vaccine have received at least one shot. 

This is what’s happening in the rest of the world

• New Zealand has its first new case in six months, and so a “snap lockdown,” as the NYT reports, is in place for three days. All schools, public sites, and nonessential businesses are closed. 

• Israel began rolling out extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines to people who are in their 50s and older. The country is an important bellwether, given its high rates of vaccination and a partnership with Pfizer to track and share real-world data. “It’s a working experimental lab for us to learn from” Dr. Eric Topol, a physician-scientist at Scripps Research, told Science magazine

• The number of COVID-19 patients who are currently hospitalized in France crossed 10,000 for the first time since June 22, according to Reuters. The increase in hospitalizations comes as French authorities have put into place strict vaccination mandates to visit public places.

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