With the Delta variant spreading its claws across the world, the question of a third “booster” shot of the Covid vaccine is gaining momentum even in nations where a large proportion of people are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
According to experts, it is too soon to decide if countries require a third dose later around the year.
Earlier this month, vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech said they would request US and European authorities to provide a third dose of their vaccine. The developers said that with emerging variants of Covid-19, a decline in efficacy over time is anticipated, however, two doses of the vaccine would protect against severe Covid-19 for at least six months.
On Tuesday, the White House’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci, on CNBC said Pfizer/BioNTech’s third-dose application was “an appropriate preparation (for) the eventuality that you might need a booster”.
“But when you translate that into, ‘We will need a booster, everyone’s going to get a booster,’ that is not appropriate,” Fauci added.
According to Didier Houssin, director of the World Health Organization’s emergency committee, there wasn’t enough evidence to justify recommending a third dose at this point.
A third dose could “aggravate concerns over access to vaccines” at a time where most countries have only a small percentage of people fully inoculated, Houssin said.
Although mass third dose campaigns don’t appear to be on the horizon, several countries have already started a third dose drive for individuals who have a weakened immune system, including those who have undergone organ transplants or suffer from cancer or renal problems.
Hungary’s President Viktor Orban on Friday said that starting from August some citizens would be able to access the third jab.
France on Monday announced that a “booster campaign” would start from September for people fully vaccinated early in the year.
Israel too began giving third doses to certain people this week.
Israel justified its decision by pointing to “a large number of cases in recent weeks” as well as the risk posed to immunocompromised patients.