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Opinion | Looking Ahead: Booster Shots and Full F.D.A. Approval of Vaccines?

Opinion | Looking Ahead: Booster Shots and Full F.D.A. Approval of Vaccines?

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Advisers Expect Booster Will Be Needed” (front page, July 24):

Apparently, our immunity to coronavirus may be time-limited. You state, “The growing consensus within the administration that at least some Americans will need a booster is tied in part to research suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective against the coronavirus after about six months.”

Yet, borders are opening for travelers who have been vaccinated and other restrictions are being lifted in many venues. What am I missing? If the vaccination may no longer be as effective, what is the point of lifting restrictions?

Proof of vaccination is inadequate. Testing for the presence of antibodies is essential, as is testing for the virus itself. And don’t dally with approval for the booster shots.

Understandably, people wish to return to a semblance of their former lives after this long siege, but please let’s be prudent.

Lawrence Balter
New York
The writer is a psychoanalyst and professor emeritus of applied psychology at New York University.

To the Editor:

Re “Why, After Months of Shots, Are None Approved?,” by David Leonhardt (The Morning, July 22):

I’ve been asking for months why full approval hasn’t already occurred. Once full approval is given, the sizable percentage of those in the military who haven’t accepted vaccinations may have to do so, as the Pentagon is considering, and schools as well as businesses will be in a much stronger position to require vaccinations. The military and public schools already mandate other vaccinations that are fully approved.

Mr. Leonhardt writes: “F.D.A. officials are acting as if most Americans are experts in the nuances of their approval process and will be shocked if the agency expedites it. In reality, many Americans know almost nothing about that process.”

Opinion Conversation
Questions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and its rollout.

We still “know almost nothing about that process,” as the newsletter fails to discuss the details. What goes into the applications? How long does the F.D.A. traditionally prefer to wait to ensure that no delayed side effects occur? How do the criteria of full approval differ from those of emergency use approval?

The answers to these questions about the process are crucial to educating “most Americans” about what to expect, thereby ensuring that the F.D.A. is still to be trusted if and when it might expedite its approvals.

James Berkman
Boston

To the Editor:

Covid-19 cases are rising in spite of available vaccines. One reason for vaccine hesitancy is their “emergency” designation. The three vaccines available in the United States have clearly shown efficacy and safety in millions of Americans and our country still has an urgent need for them.

Why has the Food and Drug Administration failed to grant them full approval, while at the same time granting full approval to aducanumab, an Alzheimer’s drug with efficacy questioned by numerous experts, possible side effects like brain swelling and bleeding, and a projected annual cost of $56,000 per patient?

From whom is the F.D.A. taking its marching orders?

Anna T. Meadows
Beverly Lange
Philadelphia
The writers are retired pediatric oncologists.

To the Editor:

I write this as I am sitting in the AdventHealth Daytona Beach hospital with my husband, who after a major cardiac event is waiting for open-heart surgery. And I mean waiting. He spent two days in an emergency room because there were no beds. Now he has been waiting five days in the cardiac care unit for an operating room to become available. All because the hospital is overwhelmed with Covid patients. Unvaccinated people threaten all of our lives.

I ask every staff member who enters his room if they are vaccinated, and about one-third are not. Mandatory vaccines are a must if we are ever going to beat this virus.

Sandy Philipsen
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Ledecky Faces Something New: A True Rival” (Sports, July 25):

I know it’s metaphoric, a creative turn of phrase, but given the scourge of gun violence, I cringed to read that the Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus “has placed a target” on Katie Ledecky’s back and “taken dead aim at it.”

I also know it’s just words, but words create mental images and associations that linger. It’s bad enough that we can barely talk about sports without fight metaphors.

Couldn’t we stick to rivals competing, challenging, even beating one another — or, as we read on Monday morning when Titmus won the 400-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics, “defeating” the “reigning champion”?

Even better, couldn’t we be really creative and find non-fight metaphors for athletes in competition?

Deborah Tannen
McLean, Va.
The writer is a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and the author of “The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words.”

To the Editor:

Re “When van Gogh Goes Over the Top,” by Maya Phillips (Critic’s Notebook, Arts pages, July 19):

I’m an artist, but also a techie about light and color. Cameras capture surface color only for a frozen instant, whereas our eyes dart from spot to spot, registering afterimages, micro-changes in depth of pigment and auric blooms that come with continued gazing.

A masterwork, through its physical, tactile presence and constantly changing visual aspects, not to mention emotional ones, is alive. As we have learned all too well this past year, it’s a different story to see a friend, or especially a loved one, in person. Why settle for less with art if we don’t have to?

Dan Kainen
Asbury Park, N.J.


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