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Fauci says US still planning for COVID-19 booster after 8 months. Biden said shots could be administered after 5.

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Anthony Fauci appears on Meet the Press
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the mRNA vaccines were going to require a third dose. Meet the Press/NBC

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the US was still planning to administer booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine eight months after the last dose.

"We're still planning on eight months," he said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." This rollout will start on the week of September 20.

"That's the plan that we have, but we are open to data as they come in," he added. The booster shots will have to be first authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control, he said.

During a meeting at the White House on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Biden said US health officials were considering following Israel's lead in administering booster shots as soon as 5 months. Israeli officials on Sunday opened up booster shot to all people who have already been fully vaccinated against the disease, as the Israeli Times reported.

"We're considering the advice you've given that we should start earlier," Biden said last week, according to CNBC. "Should it be as little as five months, and that's being discussed."

But Fauci, the chief medical advisor to Biden, said Sunday the plan had not changed.

"Right now, we're sticking with eight but we're totally open to any variation in that based on the data," Fauci said.

Discussions around booster shots come as cases of the coronavirus are again surging in the US.

Also Sunday, Fauci said he agreed that it was likely the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines always required a third dose while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine required a second, despite officials earlier this year recommending just two doses of the mRNA vaccines and just one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"We were dealing, Chuck, with a total emergency situation," he said. "If we had the grace to be able to do this in a very slow, measured manner, the Phase 2 study would have given various intervals of dosing. It is entirely conceivable that when all is said and done the standard regime will be a three-dose shot for the mRNA and a two-dose shot for J&J."

"But if you go back to when we were doing this, we were really fighting against time," he added. "We were having to save lives and we needed to do it very quickly. So, I don't think there was anything errant or wrong in the way we started it with two doses, but at least now we're being very open and flexible that we may need that third dose."

He said he was "certain" the mRNA vaccines would require a third dose.

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