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COVID-19 live updates: CDC director stands by decision to overrule panel on boosters

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(NEW YORK) — The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 686,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.7 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. is continuing to sink on the list of global vaccination rates, currently ranking No. 46, according to data compiled by The Financial Times. Just 64.7% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Sep 27, 9:07 am
CDC ‘enthusiastically awaiting’ Pfizer vaccine data on ages 5 to 11

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her agency is “enthusiastically awaiting” data from Pfizer on the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

On Sunday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on This Week that he expects the company to submit the data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the coming days.

“As soon as they get submitted to the FDA, I know the FDA is urgently planing to review this data,” Walensky told ABC News’ Whit Johnson in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.

“It will go from the FDA to the CDC and we will review it with similar urgency,” she added, “and I’m hoping in the order of weeks.”

Sep 27, 8:49 am
CDC director stands by decision to overrule panel on Pfizer boosters

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she stands by her decision to overrule her agency’s independent advisory panel by adding a recommendation for people considered high risk due to where they work to get a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

“This scientific process goes from an advisory committee at the FDA, to the authorization of the FDA, to an advisory committee at the CDC and then recommendations from the CDC. It’s a very transparent, scientific, public process and I listened intently,” Walensky told ABC News’ Whit Johnson in an interview Monday on Good Morning America.

“I fully endorsed the recommendations from the CDC advisory committee for boosters for those over the age of 65, as well as for those with underlying conditions,” she continued. “And then I also endorsed — in full alignment with the FDA and many people at the CDC — for boosters for people with high risk exposures, like those who work in occupational settings or in group settings or live in group settings, and I felt after listening to all of the science that that was actually the best move for public health.”

On Thursday night, the panel voted unanimously to recommend Pfizer boosters for seniors and other medically vulnerable Americans, six months after their second dose. People younger than 49, however, should only get a third dose if the benefits outweigh the risks, the panel said — a personal consideration to discuss with their doctor. Some panelists said that without further data, they weren’t comfortable with automatically including younger people because of their jobs.

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