Covid-19 Vaccine Boosters May Be Necessary for Some People Before Others
Covid-19 booster vaccines may eventually be needed for everyone, even if some are faster than others — at least, those are the apparent expectations that come from the World Health Organization. On Thursday, Reuters reported on WHO internal documents setting out its scenarios for the near future of the pandemic, including one that predicts that most people may need boosters two years after their last dose. . More vulnerable groups such as the elderly may need it within a year after their last dose.
According to Reuters, the forecasts were put into discussion during a council meeting Thursday by Gavi, an organization and public-private partnership formed in 2000 by the WHO and other parties, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been focused on providing vaccines to the world’s poorest countries. During the pandemic, Gavi, the WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) were responsible for the COVAX program, an initiative aimed at delivering a large share of covid-19 vaccine doses worldwide of development.
Under the baseline scenario, Reuters reported, the WHO predicts that the general public will need boosters in the next two years to keep up with evolving variants of the coronavirus. For people with weaker immune systems on average, such as the elderly, this need may come in a year instead.
The WHO did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters regarding the alleged forecasts. But a Gavi spokesman told the outlet that the COVAX program was planning to take into account a wide range of scenarios.
Indeed, there is a lot in the air when it comes to predicting the course of immunity from covid-19. Some experts with the US government and vaccine manufacturers they said that boosters may be needed in a year. Yet other studies have suggested that even natural immunity remains robust in people 11 months of age and older, while ongoing clinical trial data from Pfizer have indicated that people remain immune at least six months after their final dose. Infections and advanced infections among fully vaccinated continue to seem very rare as well.
Of course, as the coronavirus continues to evolve, there may eventually be variants capable of substantially evading the immunity provided by today’s vaccines or past infection. The immune system is a complicated machine, though, and there are many working parts to it that determine how we respond to a familiar germ. A hypothetical variant may someday be able to cause illness in over 50 percent of the vaccinated, for instance, but our immune system might still be trained enough to prevent most of us from ever getting seriously ill.
Some people are definitely more likely to benefit from boosters than others, though. On Wednesday, a study found that organ transplant recipients have developed signs of stronger immunity, including covid-specific antibodies, after a third dose of booster. That same day, experts gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that there was not enough evidence to support the recommendation of boosters for the general population at this time, but he accepted that certain groups, including older people or recipients of transplants, may need them. They even didn’t close the door one day advising them to everyone else.
However, the most urgent problem related to covid facing the world is not about vaccine boosters, but about getting the first doses at all as soon as possible. The COVAX program is not waited to come anywhere near to distribute its 2021 target of 2 billion doses of vaccine. And while there were important ones recent successes in the development of candidates for additional vaccinations, there have also been failures throughout the pandemic in providing vaccines to the world.
Since October 2020, for example, most of the world had been calling so that patent rights are temporarily waived so that vaccine production can be accelerated – a demand that the United States and other powerful parties, including at the Gates Foundation, he fought against. (As of May 2021, the United States now supports these waivers, but they are not yet of course if it happens.)
Currently, only 17% of the world’s population is partially vaccinated, and it may take until 2022 or more for a majority of the globe to get its shots.