As the virus evolves and new variants emerge, will the world need booster shots to advance COVID?
Will the world need COVID-19 vaccine boosts? While most nations have difficulty administering a first-round dose to protect their populations, evidence is emerging that, in the end, booster shots may be needed.
Top U.S. officials say it’s too early to order boosters, but vaccine maker Pfizer does pushing for government approval and Israel announced it would offer booster shots to people at risk who already had the vaccine.
This is what drives the debate:
The rise of the Delta variant
First detected in India and now the dominant form of new coronavirus infections in many countries, the Delta variant of coronavirus has raised doubts about whether currently available vaccines offer sufficient protection.
A booster shot would be guaranteed if there is a substantial increase in hospitalizations or deaths among vaccinated people, experts say. To date, in the United States, the overwhelming majority of serious illnesses are found among unvaccinated people.
An Israeli study shows that protection is declining
The Israeli Ministry of Health announced on July 5 that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was only 64% effective in preventing transmission and disease of the Delta variant, a 95% reduction in effectiveness in May.
The Israeli Ministry of Health said its unpublished data showed that protection had declined in people who received the vaccine in January or February. On July 11, the Israeli government said it would offer reinforcement to adults with weak immune systems.
Indicative of the dilemma facing governments, the Palestinian Authority is still so fighting administer a first round of vaccines to Palestinians in the occupied territories, while the Israeli government has refused to share its supply of vaccines.
Fauci says “too soon”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading American scientist in infectious diseases, said on July 11 that it was too early for the U.S. government to recommend another shot, but he would not rule out the possibility that shots would be needed in the future. of reinforcement.
“Right now, given the data and information we have, we don’t need to give people a third shot,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we stop here … There are studies being done now, ongoing as we talk, about viability about, if and when we should empower people.”
However, Dr. David Kessler, head of science at the Biden administration, told the U.S. Congress in April reinforcing features may be required in a year.
Antibodies jump five to ten times
Early data from a Pfizer booster study suggest that people’s antibody levels jump five to ten times after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.
U.S. government officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA backed down from Pfizer’s claims by saying that “at this time” they did not see reinforcements as necessary.
Pfizer will apply for US and EU regulatory approvals
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said last week that they will ask U.S. and European regulators in a few weeks to authorize a booster dose due to an increased risk of infection after six months.
The companies did not share data showing this risk, but said it would soon be made public. A meeting with federal health officials to discuss the matter was scheduled for Monday, Pfizer said.
Leading experts question the need
Leading vaccination experts questioned the basics of Pfizer and said more information was needed to justify a boost, especially as many nations are still struggling to administer initial doses.
“It is disappointing that with such a complicated decision they have taken such a one-sided approach,” Dr. Larry Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle who oversees COVID-vaccine trials, told Reuters. 19 in the United States.