Pfizer wants to give it a boost — but experts say it’s too early

About half a dozen other countries have considered the idea. If these countries also start offering a booster shot, “this will require 800 million additional doses of vaccine,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said at a press conference on Monday.

These doses should go to countries that have had little access to vaccines, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. It condemned rich and middle-income countries to contemplate third doses when front-line workers and elderly adults in poor countries did not even receive their first dose. Some countries have not even launched mass vaccination campaigns. “Currently, the data show that vaccination offers long-term immunity against serious and deadly covid-19,” he said. “The priority now should be to vaccinate those who have not received any dose and protection.”

Craig Spencer, director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center, says it more clearly. “No matter what the pharmaceutical companies tell you, you don’t need a more urgent Covid-19 booster than all the health care workers in the world who haven’t even had access to a vaccine,” he tweeted.

That’s not to say we don’t need boosters eventually. “It may be that you need boosters after a year or two,” WHO’s Swaminathan said. Wherry notes that it is good to be prepared. But he hasn’t seen any data to convince him that the boosters are justified now. “Emerging data say immunity is strong,” he says.

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