In a new review, scientists and others say boosters aren’t needed for the general population. 

Only in people older than 75 do the vaccines show some weakening in protection against hospitalization. Immunity conferred by vaccines relies on protection both from antibodies and from immune cells. Although the levels of antibodies may wane over time — and raise the risk of infection — the body’s memory of the virus is long-lived.

 

None of the data on coronavirus vaccines so far provides credible evidence in support of boosters for the general population, according to a review published on Monday by an international group of scientists, including some at the FDA and the WHO.

The 18 authors include Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, FDA scientists who announced last month that they will be leaving the agency, at least in part because they disagreed with the Joe Biden administration’s push for boosters.

In the new review, published in Lancet medical journal, experts said that whatever advantage boosters provide would not outweigh the benefit of using those doses to protect the billions of people who remain unvaccinated worldwide. Boosters may be useful in some people with weak immune systems, they said, but are not yet needed for the general population.

“Taken as a whole, the currently available studies do not provide credible evidence of substantially declining protection against severe disease, which is the primary goal of vaccination,” said lead author Ana-Maria Henao-Restrepo, of the WHO.

“If vaccines are deployed where they would do most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants,” she added. WHO scientists Soumya Swaminathan and Mike Ryan were also among the authors of the article.

Several studies published by the CDC suggest that while efficacy against Delta variant seems to wane slightly over time, the vaccines hold steady against severe illness in all age groups.

Only in people older than 75 do the vaccines show some weakening in protection against hospitalization. Immunity conferred by vaccines relies on protection both from antibodies and from immune cells. Although the levels of antibodies may wane over time — and raise the risk of infection — the body’s memory of the virus is long-lived.

The vaccines are slightly less effective against Delta than with Alpha strain, but the virus has not yet evolved to evade sustained responses from immune cells, the experts said. Boosters may eventually be needed even for the general population if a variant emerges that sidesteps immune response.

The experts cautioned that promoting boosters before they are needed, as well as any reports of side effects from it such as heart problems or Guillain-Barre syndrome, may undermine confidence in primary vaccination. NYT & Agencies


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