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Fauci says third vaccine dose 'likely' necessary in order for Americans to 'enjoy the privileges of the freedoms' of being fully vaccinated

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious diseases expert and White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that he would not be at all surprised if the recommended full regimen for the two-shot COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. became three doses instead of two, according to CNBC.

What are the details?

During a Thursday White House press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci was asked if he believed the U.S. would follow Israel's example and require people to receive a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in order to be considered "fully vaccinated."

Zeke Miller with the Associated Press asked Fauci, "You mentioned the studies in Israel. We've seen the Israeli government require people to get a third dose of the vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. They're — do you expect a similar change the United States that — you know, that if the third dose after that eight-month waiting period will be required to be, quote, unquote, 'considered fully vaccinated' and enjoy the privileges of the freedoms that that provides?"

Fauci responded, "The determination whether something is now — constitute 'fully vaccinated,' I will leave that up to the FDA when they get the data on the three doses to make that determination — and then, ultimately, a recommendation from the ACIP to the CDC so that it's recommended."

"But I must say," he continued, "from my own experience as an immunologist, I would not at all be surprised that the adequate, full regimen for vaccination will likely be three doses. And the reason I say that is that it is very clear, when you give a prime and maybe a second shot as a boost — but give the immune system enough chance to mature, in both affinity maturation and maturation of the B cell repertoire, it is entirely understandable why the results that I've just reported from the Israeli boosters are so dramatic."

Fauci, who is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that he would leave it up to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ultimately determine the composition of a "full regimen," but said that he personally believes that three doses rather than two would likely provide a more durable response.

Fauci added, "And we all hope — and I believe we have good reason to believe — that that only will not be a strong response, but that it will actually be durable. And if it is durable, then you're going to have — very likely — a three-dose regimen being the routine regimen. But we'll just have to wait to make sure that that's the case when the data get presented to the FDA."

CBS News on Friday tweeted video of Fauci's remarks, captioning it, "Dr. Fauci says he would be 'not at all surprised' if three vaccine doses becomes the 'adequate, full regimen' for protection from COVID-19."

Anything else to know?

Elsewhere during the briefing, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients noted that 175 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated, a month-over-month increase of 10 million.

"That's a major milestone in our vaccination effort," Zients said in his remarks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky added that the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases as of Thursday was more than 150,000 per day.

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