Do you need a 4th COVID vaccine dose? Many countries are now starting to offer a fourth dose to vulnerable groups. However, the jury is still out if the general population needs it.
FDA Approves 4th COVID Vaccine Dose For Americans Aged 0 and Above
The US Food and Drug Administration previously approved a 4th COVID vaccine dose for Americans aged 50 years and above. The agency also allowed its use for immunocompromised people who remain at risk.
However, experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remained skeptical if the rest needs a 4th dose. This is especially true given the country’s absence of a clear public health strategy.
Questions about the need for a fourth dose surfaced after Israel released the results of its study.
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The tests showed that a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine only offers limited protection against serious illness. The fourth dose offers protection for six weeks after the shot. Then, the efficacy of the vaccine wears off after just four weeks.
4th COVID Vaccine Dose Antibodies Wane Rapidly
Currently, the medical consensus remains unconvinced of the 4th COVID vaccine dose’s effectiveness. In fact, even the World Health Organization has yet to issue a recommendation regarding the fourth dose.
WHO Chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan weighed in on the discussion. She said that “there isn’t any good evidence at this point of time.”
“What we know from immunology is that if you give another booster, you will see a temporary increase in the neutralizing antibodies.
But what we’ve also seen is that these neutralizing antibodies will wane quite rapidly. This happened after the third dose. And it’s happened again after the fourth dose,” she added.
4th COVID Vaccine Dose ‘Doesn’t Really Do Much of Anything’
Paul Goepfert, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama, agreed with the WHO’s observation. He said that “a fourth dose doesn’t really do much of anything”.
Goepfert added the effect produced is something “that everybody needs to get aboard.”
However, the Israel study also showed that the 4th COVID vaccine dose helped protect against serious disease. Consequently, some countries made the second booster dose available for high-risk groups.
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This includes Israel, Denmark, and Singapore. said Ashley St. John, an associate professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, who looks at the situation differently.
Instead of looking at the short-term effects, people should appreciate immediate protection. St. John added that the 4th shot “remains protective overall.”
Do We Need Annual COVID Booster Shots?
As more COVID variants emerge, questions still remain if people will need additional booster shots to protect themselves.
White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci said that Americans might need boosters every year or two. However, blanket vaccine approaches may not continue to work.
Swaminathan thinks that high-risk groups might need an annual vaccine. But, “it’s not clear whether a healthy adult is going to need a regular annual shot,” she added.
In addition, current vaccines might not work for future variants of COVID -19. “The challenge of changing the vaccine composition is that you’re always playing catch-up,” Swaminathan added.
Watch the ABC News video answering the question: Could too many COVID booster shots pose potential risks?
Do you think that normal, healthy Americans need a 4th COVID vaccine dose? How do we eradicate the virus completely?
Let us know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.