Developed countries mull booster shots | Daily News

Developed countries mull booster shots

A nurse prepares a vaccine vial
A nurse prepares a vaccine vial

Coronavirus vaccine booster shots will likely be needed in the fall, according to experts, who are urging governments to organize them now.

It comes as the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, continues to spread rapidly across the world.

Some countries, like the U.S. and U.K., have already signaled that they could roll out COVID-19 booster shots within a year. Now, pressure is building on governments to mobilize booster shot programs - no easy task given the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, vaccines and variants.However, concrete plans for COVID-19 booster shots are lacking. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, last month said it was, “just something we’re gonna have to figure out as we go.”

As talk of booster shots grow, here’s what we know so far:

First of all, there are question marks over whether we actually need a third dose of any COVID-19 vaccine given that we don’t know how long immunity currently lasts.

In the U.S. and U.K. the shots being used are those from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, with the U.K. also relying heavily on the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine.

There are also unknowns regarding whether people should get a booster shot that’s the same as the vaccines they originally had. And also whether the shots need to be tweaked to deal with variants, much like the flu vaccine, or whether they can remain as they are.

Booster shots could potentially be rolled out before countries have even completed their initial vaccination programs. To date, the U.K. has given two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine to almost 60% of the adult population while the U.S. has given just over 45% of all adults two doses. The U.S. is also offering the shot to the over-12s, whereas the U.K. is not yet offering the vaccine to anyone under 18.

On Monday, the BBC cited a senior government source as saying plans for a Covid-19 booster jab program will be published “in due course” and that “extensive” research was being conducted into the effect of different vaccine combinations.

In May, the U.K. launched the Cov-Boost study which is studying the use of seven different Covid-19 vaccines when given as a third dose. The results, due in September, would “inform plans for booster program,” the government said.

Experts argue that there needs to be extensive planning in place for any booster program in order to help health services cope. This is particularly important given that they are under pressure not just from delivering the current vaccination programs, but also tending to the health needs of those patients whose procedures and treatments were delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (CNBC)

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