Frequently administering booster vaccines to the population is not a viable strategy in combating the coronavirus. And experts from the World Health Organization warned the World Health Organization against this. Vaccines must also be developed to better prevent the spread of the virus. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is also of this view.
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A vaccination strategy based on repeated boosters of the first vaccines has little chance of being appropriate or viable, said a WHO expert group that oversees vaccines against the coronavirus. Experts also believe that vaccines are necessary and should be developed “with a significant impact in terms of spread and avoidance of infection, in addition to preventing serious diseases and death.” It should also provoke a strong immune system response, thus reducing the need for repeat booster injections.
In anticipation of such vaccines, experts suggest “perhaps updating the existing vaccine formulation to ensure it continues to provide the levels of protection recommended by the World Health Organization against infection and disease,” including against variants such as Omicron.
Experts also point out that it is not yet clear whether the low omicron intensity is due to intrinsic characteristics of the variant, or to the fact that large parts of the population are already partially immunized due to a vaccine or previous infection. Meanwhile, Omicron is spreading at an unprecedented rate.
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech expect the modified vaccine to be ready in March. Moderna aims to drop the Omicron vaccine.
See also: The World Health Organization previously warned that more than half of Europeans will develop the omicron variant within two months
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) also questions the frequency of giving booster injections every three or four months. “This is not going to be a sustainable long-term strategy,” said Marco Cavalieri, head of vaccination strategy.
While the first booster campaign is being launched in Europe, the elderly in countries such as Israel and Chile are now receiving a fourth injection of a vaccine against the Corona virus. With the advent of the omikron variant, the debate over the additional booster is gaining momentum. For now, the EMA has declined to make a recommendation.
We have not yet seen any data to support this approach. While additional reinforcement could be considered as part of the emergency plan, frequent vaccination at short intervals would not be a sustainable long-term strategy,” said Cavalieri. He added that for the most vulnerable, especially those with weakened immunity, it might be a different story.
Excessive immune system
The EMA fears not only that frequent boosters can “overload” the immune system, but also that the population will tire of vaccination. Therefore, a long-term strategy must be considered. For example, in a scenario where an epidemic develops into an endemic state, one might consider an injection at the beginning of winter, according to the head of vaccination strategy.
Cavalieri believes that it is possible that the rapid spread of the omicron variant could lead to an endemic state. He said the highly contagious variant could act as a “natural booster” as many people build up a natural resistance.
In the meantime, however, the world is still in a pandemic state, and the latest data suggests that booster people are better protected against serious diseases than those who only received the basic vaccination, according to the EMA. UK data, for example, will show that protection against hospitalization increases again to 90 per cent after the third shot.
The EMA has not yet made a decision on a booster dose for minors. The agency is currently evaluating an order from Pfizer-BioNTech for children ages 16 to 17, and Cavalieri expects the vaccine maker to apply for 12 to 15-year-olds as well.
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