GrandWest. Friday 27.08.2021. The Phizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that requires 2 shots, 21 days appart. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
GrandWest. Friday 27.08.2021. The Phizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an mRNA vaccine that requires 2 shots, 21 days appart. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Covid-19 booster shots are unnecessary, says Prof Madhi

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Sep 10, 2021

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Cape Town: While data suggests that vaccine-induced protection from Covid-19 declines over time, top vaccinologist Professor Shabir Madhi says there is absolutely no need for Covid-19 booster shots.

Vaccine efficacy has been shown to reduce over time, as the virus-fighting antibodies it stimulates wane naturally.

For example, Pfizer reported protection against symptomatic disease drops to 84% after six months, from a peak of 96% within two months of receiving the first two doses.

Although there are no indications or plans by South Africa in rolling out a third booster shot, co-investigator of the Sisonke research study Professor Glenda Gray, has confirmed that talks were under way with Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and the Department of Health about running a Covid-19 vaccine booster trial in the country.

“Are we trying a booster to protect against severe disease or are we trying a booster to protect against infection and mild Covid-19,” asked Madhi.

According to Madhi the primary goal of vaccinations is not about preventing infection but to prevent deaths.

Those who have received two doses of vaccines, if they don’t have underlying medical conditions, even if they are above the age of 60 they can get protection above 90%, he says.

“There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever except for some exceptions and those exceptions are probably health-care workers.

“There’s no other reason that we should be trying to boost people to protect against infection and mild Covid-19.

“If we do that we will end up needing to boost people every 6 to 12 months and that is not feasible even in the US.

“So when it comes to protection against severe disease, yes we might need to boost but again that boosting will probably need to be for category of individuals that are at high risk of developing severe diseases and dying and not just the general population,” he said.

So far countries including Israel, France and Germany have already started rolling out third doses, while the UK and US, plan to follow suit in September.

The World Health Organisation had previously called for a pause on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until the end of September.

On Wednesday, director-general Dr Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for this to be extended until at least the end of the year to narrow the gap in vaccinations between countries.

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African News Agency (ANA)

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