Boosters and rapid COVID tests aren’t available. US government needs to step up on pandemic, says columnist

Johnson & Johnson has released new research showing that a second dose of its vaccine increases protection against COVID-19. The company has since submitted its data to the FDA. What does this mean for Americans wanting booster shots?

“The fact is that for most of us, the data suggests that we still got lots of strong protection, especially against serious disease. So rushing headlong to get a booster … it may just be the result of panic rather than science,” says Carl Zimmer, author of the “Matter” column for the New York Times.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has shelved one of its most effective tools to stop the spread of coronavirus: regular rapid testing. 

“We should all have really cheap or maybe free tests that we can be taking regularly. That could be a huge factor combined with things like masks and vaccines to really get this pandemic under control. But when a test is like $20 … people aren't going to be doing it every few days, like some think we should do.” 

Zimmer says the government hasn’t taken enough leadership on this. “There could potentially be things that the government could do to boost that supply, maybe … cut through some of the red tape for getting other devices approved. And really, set up programs so that we can … just get the things in the mail, how about that?”



  • Carl Zimmer - author of the “Matter” column for the New York Times