Fauci: ‘We Don’t Know’ Whether Yearly COVID-19 Booster Shots Necessary

Fauci: 'We Don't Know' Whether Yearly COVID-19 Booster Shots Necessary anthony fauci speaks into mic Dr. Anthony Fauci gives an update on the omicron COVID-19 variant during the daily press briefing at the White House on Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Solange Reyner | Thursday, 02 December 2021 12:24 PM

Dr. Anthony Fauci says time will tell on whether people need to be vaccinated yearly against COVID-19.

"To be honest with you, we don't know. We really don't," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper during a town hall event Wednesday evening.

"You could say we might have this, or we might require this, but we don't know," Fauci added.

"One of the things I'm very interested in and my colleagues, is that when you get a boost, the booster shot for example with an mRNA or a Pfizer, do you not only elevate the level of antibodies to a high level but do you induce a degree of affinity maturation which is a big word to mean that you really get the immune response to get a much greater breadth and a much greater strength so that we maybe don't have to boost every eight months, nine months.

"It may be we get a durability of immunity. Or maybe not. And if it is not, we'll have to deal with it depending upon how the outbreak and the global pandemic evolves."

He added, "So, the honest answer is we don't know what's going to be required. I hope we get a durability protection from the boost that we won't have to be chasing all the time against the new variant. But that just remains to be seen."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in mid-November said every person should get "boosted" depending on how long it’s been since their initial shots.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the U.S. again, approaching 100,000 per day, and the new variant is spreading — officials confirmed the first case in the U.S. on Wednesday. But Israeli officials say a Pfizer booster provides up to 90% protection against severe illness from the omicron variant.