Scientists Warn of ‘Vaccine Treadmill’ as Vaccine Makers Gear Up for COVID Booster Shots
Commentaries by Robert Gorter, MD, PhD.
April 20th, 2021
Annual or bi-annual COVID booster shots are music to the ears of investors, but scientists warn trying to outsmart the virus with booster shots would create new variants, each more virulent and transmissible than the one before.
Vaccine makers are telling investors and the media that multiple COVID booster shots are already in the works. In some cases, companies say the boosters may be needed because the vaccine’s effectiveness may run out, as the cellular part of the immune system has been circumvented by injecting mRNA. In other instances, they suggest booster shots will be needed to combat new COVID variants.
Annual (bi-annual) COVID booster shots are music to the ears of investors. But some independent scientists warn that trying to outsmart the virus with booster shots designed to address the next variant could backfire, creating an endless wave of new variants, each more virulent and transmissible than the one before.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Thursday a third dose of the company’s COVID vaccine was “likely” to be needed within a year of the initial two-dose inoculation — followed by annual (bi-annual) vaccinations.
Bourla said that “a likely scenario” is “the third dose somewhere between six and 12 months, and from there it would be an annual re-vaccination.”
In a conversation hosted by CVS Health, Bourla explained how some vaccines are given only once, while others need annual boosters like flu shots.
“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla said during an interview with CNBC. Booster shots will be an important tool in battling more contagious variants, he added.
Moderna’s chief commercial officer, Corinne M. Le Goff, said during a call with investors last week that Americans could start getting booster shots of its vaccine later this year to protect against COVID variants.
“It is likely that the countries that have already achieved high vaccine coverage are going to be ready to shift their focus to boosters in 2022,