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We can’t give COVID booster shots every six months, Oxford vaccine scientist says

Can the world’s population continue to receive boosters?

What is the omicron’s potential reproduction rate?
Can the world’s population continue to receive boosters?
Photo illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

An Oxford scientist recently criticized the idea that the world’s population will continue to need COVID-19 vaccine booster shots every six months, saying it’s impossible to make that happen.

Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and head of the U.K.’s Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, recently told The Daily Telegraph that the vaccine developers can’t keep up with the pace of COVID-19 booster shots.

  • “We can’t vaccinate the planet every four to six months. It’s not sustainable or affordable,” said Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford-Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
  • He said health officials “need to target the vulnerable” rather than give everyone vaccine shots and boosters.

Pollard also told Sky News that vaccine rollouts every six months may keep people safe, but they won’t be affordable long term.

  • “It’s just not — from a global perspective — affordable, sustainable or deliverable to give fourth doses to everyone on the planet every six months,” Pollard said. “And remember that, today, less than 10% of people in low-income countries have even had their first dose, so the whole idea of regular fourth doses globally is just not sensible.”

These comments come as there have been early murmurs of potential fourth COVID-19 vaccine shots. A government panel of experts in Israel recommended a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose for anyone 60 years old and older to fight the omicron variant, according to BBC News.

  • “This is wonderful news that will assist us in getting through the omicron wave that is engulfing the world,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in response to the shot.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently said that the fourth shot may be needed, but there needs to be more research.

  • “It is conceivable that in the future, we might need an additional shot, but right now, we are hoping that we will get a greater degree of durability of protection from that booster shot,” Fauci said. “So we’re going to take one step at a time, get the data from the third boost and then make decisions based on scientific data.”

Rich Lakin, Utah Department of Health’s immunization director, also threw cold water on the idea of a fourth shot, per Deseret News.

  • “It’s too soon. We actually haven’t even discussed a fourth dose at all,” Lakin said.