Researchers in Israel revealed on Wednesday that a third dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine may prevent both infections and severe sickness in people over the age of 60 for at least 12 days, bringing the issue over booster doses to a head.
In the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers published the findings of their study, which is the latest salvo in the debate over whether booster doses are necessary for healthy adults and whether they should be given out, as the Biden administration intends to do, when so much of the world is still unvaccinated.
Independent scientists have said that the accumulated evidence to far suggests that only elderly people will need boosters – and that they may not even require them.
According to specialists, vaccination continues to provide significant protection against serious illness and hospitalisation in the overwhelming majority of individuals in all of the studies that have been published so far. Although effective against infections in individuals of all ages, it seems that the vaccinations are less effective against infections in those who have been exposed to the highly infectious Delta form.
What the Israeli data reveal is that a booster may increase protection for a few weeks in older people – a finding that, according to experts, is not unexpected and does not imply a long-term advantage in this population.
In support of their plans to give booster doses, federal health officials — notably Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical advisor on the pandemic — have pointed to new data from Israel and other nations that suggests protection from immunisation diminishes with time.
Although the notion has led some Americans rushing for booster injections even before they are officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which may happen as soon as Friday. In spite of this, the concept has been greeted with scepticism and outrage even among government experts.