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COVID-19 booster shot: Science still evolving, says WHO scientist

COVID-19 booster shot: Science still evolving, says WHO scientist

COVID-19 booster shot: Science still evolving, says WHO scientist
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By CNBCTV18.com Jun 21, 2021 5:26:00 PM IST (Published)

Some countries are trying to acquire more doses to shore up their booster initiatives even as experts argue about the need for the third dose.

As the coronavirus continues to mutate, the efficacy of vaccines against the newer variants and the longevity of antibodies remain a concern. Nations around the world are preparing to acquire more COVID-19 doses as "booster shots" to combat any sudden surges during autumn and winter, when temperatures begin to fall and people celebrate festivals.

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The UK was one of the first countries to announce an official policy for supplementary vaccinations against COVID-19. The country’s re-opening has been severely hampered by the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
Health experts, however, argue that such intervention might not be required.
“We do not have the information that’s necessary to make the recommendation on whether or not a booster will be needed,” said Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, World Health Organization (WHO). The top science officer at the global health organisation said “science is still evolving” on the need for COVID-19 boosters.
Swaminathan added that the WHO’s policy will be determined by real-world data from the booster vaccination programmes that will be conducted by various countries around the world.
One of the main causes for concern in the ongoing fight against the global pandemic is the emergence of more transmissible variants and further mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Vaccine makers have already started working on tweaking their vaccine formulations to take on the emerging variants, but many have said such developments will always be lagging behind real-time viral mutations.
Others have cautioned that third shots would most likely be needed to shore up the immune response, especially for people who are more susceptible to the virus.
Also, not every vaccine will be particularly effective for a third dose, depending on its biological mechanisms. While trials on mixing and matching vaccines are currently on, conclusive answers have not yet arrived.
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