The United States will be the newest country to expand eligibility for Covid boosters beyond the immunocompromised, the elderly, and high-risk patients.
Many scientists following the data believe this is the right one Time to move is – although some have raised concerns that the original vaccines are still holding up well against major illness and death in the general population.
Boosters are for medical experts a controversial issue.
An independent panel that advised the Food and Drug Administration in September initially voted against the availability of boosters for everyone and called for stricter criteria.
This time US media have reported that the FDA to extend eligibility without calling in outside experts. So what’s changed?
For Vincent Rajkumar, an oncologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota who is closely following the latest Covid research, one of the strongest pieces of evidence comes from a Pfizer clinical trial .
The company said that the vaccine’s effectiveness against symptomatic disease was restored to 95.6 percent by giving a booster dose in a study of 10,000 people over the age of 16.
Then There is also the example of Israel fighting its delta wave with a nationwide refresher campaign, said Rajkumar.
Data on those over 50 released this week by the UK health authority appear to show the vaccine’s effectiveness to show a refresher rose to its peak above the protection level with the first two doses.
“So I think the answer to the purely scientific question, ‘Does the booster work? ‘ Yes, there is no question that it will work, “he said.
Rajkumar is also concerned about the impact of breakthrough cases.
While people who become infected with full vaccination are far less likely to get sick enough to hospital or die, new data from Minnesota shows that “deaths among those vaccinated are not zero.”
It is currently around one in 100,000 per week, compared to about 14 per 100,000 among the unvaccinated. Those most at risk of dying from Covid after vaccination are the elderly and immunocompromised people, such as people with cancer or organ transplants.
“My breakthrough puts them at risk – and that’s why if I do It’s good not to get an infection, “said Rajkumar of his decision to have a booster vaccination.
Not all scientists are that enthusiastic.
Celine Gounder, a leading infectious disease specialist and professor at New York University, wants more evidence of long-term immunity before advocating boosters for everyone, and hasn’t gotten one herself.
For her is the controversy stems from a lack of agreement about what society wants to achieve.
“Are you trying to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and death? Or are you trying to prevent infection and transmission?”
“So od So boosters aren’t necessarily the answer, “she says.
The best way to reduce serious illness and death is to reduce community transmission by reaching those who haven’t been vaccinated The vast majority of hospital admissions and deaths are currently unvaccinated.
Vaccinated people who end up with a severe case are overwhelmingly the elderly and immunocompromised, to whom everyone already agrees , should receive a booster vaccination.
Gounder also finds it unrealistic to believe that booster vaccinations block transmission.
The rapid incubation time of the coronavirus in the body and the fact that current vaccines are inside Giving organs greater immunity than the upper respiratory mucus means that booster vaccinations will never eliminate all infections, which may conclude that the vaccinations are ineffective ind.
Another risk is a greater number of cases of vaccine-related heart infections (myocarditis), particularly in younger men.
Gounder does not rule out ultimately supporting a three-dose series , two doses further apart, regular boosters or some other combination – says these need to be investigated more thoroughly.
Experts largely agree that boosters alone Cannot solve the pandemic, while the poorest countries, especially in Africa, remain in the single-digit percentage range of people covered by their basic vaccination series.
Last week WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized the fact that rich Countries are giving six times more vaccine doses a day than low-income countries are giving primary doses.
“It would be really unfortunate if we did all this hard work of vaccinating and un s would then throw back part of the world in another case due to an emerging variant, “said Gounder.