Is There An Imminent Need For COVID-19 Booster Shots? What Are They?

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COVID-19 Booster Shots: New variants of the coronavirus are appearing which has led to the need of developing an effective vaccine against them. While some of the vaccines available in the market are proving effective against these variants, others are failing to do so. The cases of the Delta variant are surging and wreaking havoc in several countries. This has led to the pharmaceutical companies theorizing about introducing booster shots to enhance the immunity of an individual.

What are booster shots?

While many pharmaceutical companies are assuring that their vaccines are effective against all variants, some vaccines in the market have not shown adequate efficacy in giving protection against the mutating variants. People who are fully vaccinated can take Booster shots to induce further protection against the disease. The immunity can wear off over time, so booster shots are given to activate the immune system of the body.

Pfizer’s vaccine will currently remain a two-dose vaccine for the public. The use of an additional booster will only be guaranteed if the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree to it. Anthony Fauci, US President Biden’s COVID-19 adviser, made that clear after a Monday meeting with the vaccine maker Pfizer, where the company briefed key administration advisers on its as-yet-unpublished data. The company has said the data show that “a third dose may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination.”

Which countries have decided to give a booster shot?

Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have decided to give a booster shot to fully vaccinated people. The United Kingdom is also planning to give a booster shot to people aged 50 and above before the winter. They have currently approved the use of Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines.

Israel is currently facing a rapid rise in the positive cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that effective immediately, adults with impaired immune systems who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine could get a booster shot, with a decision pending on wider distribution.

Do you need to take a booster shot?

At present, there aren’t any clear studies available about when a booster will be needed. Researchers are still trying to figure out how to assess the strength of a person’s vaccine-induced immunity. The vaccines that are being used at present tend to generate an immune memory against the coronavirus. People who are above the age of 80 are more prone to wearing off their immunity as their body makes lower levels of antibodies after getting vaccinated. Therefore, the availability of booster shots can be beneficial for this age group.

Important factors to consider before the rollout of booster shots

Several debates are going on regarding the need for booster shots. Pfizer is currently in the lead for developing booster shots. Pfizer and BioNTech announced the strategy of using a third vaccine in February. The companies are trying to figure out whether adding a booster to the already available vaccine is required or not. They will test it on the volunteers, monitoring their antibody levels and observing the occurrence of any side effects.

Another concern is regarding the access to booster shots. Currently, many countries are experiencing a shortage of vaccines. Many people are without access to vaccines, so the present focus needs to be on vaccinating adults and health workers than people who are fully vaccinated.