Even as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in many parts of the world, a leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine contended on Friday that all fully vaccinated people won’t need booster shots.
“We will look at each situation—the immunocompromised and elderly will receive boosters,” Oxford University Professor Sarah Gilbert told the Telegraph newspaper.
“But I don’t think we need to boost everybody. Immunity is lasting well in the majority of people,” she added.
Much like in the United States, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that he expects a coronavirus booster program to be launched later this month.
Other Uses of Boosters
Instead of using vaccine doses as boosters, Gilbert hoped that more vaccines could be shipped to countries that have lower inoculation levels.
“We need to get vaccines to countries where few of the population have been vaccinated so far,” she said.
“We have to do better in this regard. The first dose has the most impact,” she continued.
Similar sentiments were shared this week by the World Health Organization, which has once again extended its call for a moratorium on booster doses until at least the end of the year.
“There has been little change in the global situation … so today I am calling for an extension of the moratorium until at least the end of the year to enable every country to vaccinate at least 40 percent of its population,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing on Wednesday.
According to the agency, more than five billion vaccine doses have been administered globally but 80 percent have been given to citizens of higher-income countries.
President Joe Biden’s administration has emphasized that there are enough booster shots available to start administering by the original September 20 projection. The details, however, surrounding who’s eligible to receive them and exactly when are still pending authorization by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
The White House has said that it would rely on officials at the two agencies if there is any need to adjust the previously planned rollout of booster shots at eight months after receiving two coronavirus vaccine doses. It had previously noted that there is a possibility that the timeline could be moved up by three months.
“We will have boosters. I’m virtually certain of that,” White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday on PBS NewsHour.
“If you look at the evidence that’s evolving from our own cohort studies that the CDC is following, to the very clear evidence we’re getting from our Israeli colleagues, that the immunity, particularly against infection, but, in the Israeli data, certainly also against severe disease, is waning, including in the context of the Delta variant. We are also seeing that, in the situation in Israel where they are boosting people, the boosting is highly successful in increasing dramatically the protection that one gets against serious disease and against infection,” he continued.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.