A pharmacist delivers a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a customer at a pharmacy in Livonia, Michigan, United States, on Tuesday, August 17, 2021.
Emily Elconin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An expert review of the scientific evidence has found that Covid-19 vaccine booster vaccinations are not currently required for the general public, a group of leading US and international scientists said Monday in peer-reviewed journal The Lancet.
The conclusion from scientists, including two senior officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the WHO, came as studies continue to show that the approved Covid vaccines in the U.S. against serious illness and hospitalization caused by the rapidly spreading Delta variant remain highly effective.
While the Covid vaccine’s effectiveness against minor illnesses may decline over time, protection against serious illnesses may remain in place, the scientists said. That’s because the body’s immune system is complex, they said, and besides antibodies it has other defenses that can protect someone from getting seriously ill.
“Current evidence therefore does not appear to show a need in the general population for boosters that remain high against serious illnesses,” the scientists wrote, adding that the widespread use of boosters was “inappropriate at this stage of the pandemic.” . “
They acknowledged that booster shots may be needed for the general population if vaccination-induced immunity wanes even further or a new variant emerges that can bypass the protection of vaccinations.
They said there were risks with giving boosters too early, including the possibility of side effects like a rare heart inflammation known as myocarditis, which is more common after the second dose of mRNA vaccines.
“If unnecessary refreshments cause significant side effects, it could impact vaccine acceptance beyond COVID-19 vaccines,” they wrote.
The comments come a week before the Biden government says it plans to offer booster covid vaccines to the general public. An FDA advisory group will meet on Friday to discuss the data to support widespread use of boosters.
The government last month cited three new studies published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which showed that their protection from Covid has waned over several months. The government’s plan, outlined by senior health officials, calls for a third dose eight months after the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Scientists and other health experts have repeatedly criticized the plan, saying the data they cited are not compulsory, calling government pressure on boosters premature.
Scientists in The Lancet Review, released on Monday, include Marion Gruber, director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research & Review, and deputy director Phil Krause. Both officials are leaving the FDA this year after reportedly frustrated by the agency’s decision to endorse booster vaccinations.
The scientists said a booster might be suitable for some people, such as:
Federal health officials last month approved booster injections for those people, including cancer and HIV patients or those who have had an organ transplant.