SAN DIEGO — Neither the US or EU have approved a coronavirus booster and the World Health Organization says it hasn't been proven that a third shot is needed and if so when and who.
On Thursday, Israel became the first country to approve the COVID-19 booster.
Pfizer says the effectiveness of the vaccine drops slightly six months after the second dose. It also says it plans to seek authorization for a booster in August.
“I think the jury is still out on this,” said Greg Lemke, PhD, professor of Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute.
He says the history of vaccines has shown we most likely will need a booster the question is when from the time of your second dose.
“If you ask me to make a guess my guess is that boosters will eventually be recommended. The timing in that - not so clear. Probably on the order of a year,” said Lemke.
Despite Biden administration health officials predicting that vulnerable populations such as seniors will need a booster, President Biden said on Thursday that no one needs the booster for now.
“I think you can make an equal argument for seniors 65 and above because they are at a much higher risk of the disease,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, M.D., Rady Children’s Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist.
Dr. Sawyer also serves on Governor Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccine safety panel and said you may not have to wait a certain amount of time to get the booster.
“It doesn't really matter when you get the booster dose, your immune system will remember the second dose and if you get a booster on top of that it mounts a memory or amnesic response,” said Sawyer.
While there has been some debate on whether you could have the Pfizer booster if you got Moderna or Johnson and Johnson in your first and second dose, doctors say it still targets the protein spike.
Researchers say depending on how infectious a strain is, manufacturers can easily alter the sequence in the third dose but most likely it will be a true booster shot.
“The first boosters that we are talking about are basically the vaccine we have now,” said Lemke.
While the U.S. has the vaccine supply for a third dose, America and other vaccine-abundant countries are being criticized for not sharing with poorer countries with people who haven't received their first dose.
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