Sunday morning on CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot "might likely happen."
Early Israel data indicates the efficacy of Pfizer's two-dose jab may've fallen amid Delta's spread.
Overall, Fauci described the Delta-variant-fueled case spike as "a pandemic among the unvaccinated."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, says that COVID-19 booster shots "might likely happen."
On CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning, Fauci told the anchor Jake Tapper that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was looking at evolving data that could recommend a booster shot, particularly for vulnerable and immunocompromised people.
"It's a work in progress," Fauci said of the CDC's stance on a vaccine booster shot. "It evolves, like in so many other areas of the pandemic. You have got to look at the data."
Fauci said the advisory committee was still examining preliminary data from Israel and Pfizer suggesting that the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in protecting people against infection might have dropped amid the spread of the Delta variant.
New data from Israel suggests the Pfizer vaccine was just 39% effective at preventing nationwide infections in late June and early July, while it had been found 95% effective from January to early April, The New York Times reported, noting that the numbers were estimates. The vaccine was still thought to be over 90% effective at preventing severe infection and hospitalization.
A separate study from the UK indicated that the Pfizer vaccine was still 88% effective against symptomatic Delta infections after two shots.
As to whether a third shot would improve the effectiveness, Fauci said the committee would "continue to look at the data that might push us in that direction."
The Delta variant is estimated to make up about 80% of new cases in the US, according to CDC data. In the middle of June, the variant was thought responsible for just 20.6% of the COVID-19 cases in the US.
The current surge in cases is mostly among people who are not fully vaccinated, however, prompting Fauci to describe the latest situation as "a pandemic among the unvaccinated," which still represents nearly half of eligible Americans.
"It's like we have two kinds of America," Fauci said.
Asked whether people should still wear masks in public, Fauci acknowledged the CDC's recommendation that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear a mask indoors. He added, however, that the agency supported the ability and discretion of local officials to reinstate mask requirements in areas of the country that were experiencing spikes in infections, such as Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Chicago.
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