EMA officials made the warning in a Jan. 11 press conference. The regulator eschewed proposals to inject people with a COVID-19 booster every four months. It argued that repeated, frequent boosters could tire out and eventually weaken the immune response – contrary to the intended goal.
One EMA official disagreed with suggestions to indefinitely inject the population with boosters. Marco Cavaleri, head of the regulator's biological health threats and vaccine strategy department, said that boosters "can be done once, or maybe twice, but it's not something that we can think should be repeated constantly."
"While use of additional boosters can be part of contingency plans, repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy," he continued. "We need to think about how we can transition from the current pandemic setting to a more endemic setting."
As an alternative, the EMA officials said countries should leave more time between booster programs. They also suggested tying booster programs to the onset of the cold season in each hemisphere, similar to vaccination programs against influenza. The EMA's recommendations leave the door open for an annual booster similar to the flu booster.
The EMA's suggestions come as several countries impose mandatory boosters amid the B11529 omicron variant's spread. Israel mandated a fourth vaccine dose for its citizens aged 60 and above. (Related: Israel says covid booster shots will now be ENDLESS.)
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, said boosters are providing a good level of protection and there is no need for a second booster shot – a fourth dose – at the moment. However, it added that it will review data to determine the need for future boosters.
The EMA has found an ally in its stance against frequent COVID-19 boosters in the person of Andrew Pollard. The scientist from the University of Oxford and chairman of the U.K. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization called frequent boosting an "unsustainable endeavor."
He argued in a Jan. 3 interview with the Telegraph that injecting booster doses to people every four to six months is not a sustainable long-term practice. "We can't vaccinate the planet every four to six months. It's not sustainable or affordable. [If] your goal [with boosters] is to stop all infections, that is wrong," Pollard said.
Pollard, who helped develop the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, also said that subsequent shots after the third vaccine dose should be put on hold. Only if "strong evidence" of their necessity emerges should they be required, he added. (Related: AstraZeneca vaccine creator says continual Covid vaccine booster shots are UNSUSTAINABLE.)
"We know that people have strong antibodies for a few months after their third vaccination. But more data [is] needed to assess whether, when and how often those who are vulnerable will need additional doses."
However, Pollard espoused a different approach to boosting compared to EMA's recommendation. He instead suggested that vaccine rollouts "target the vulnerable" instead of boosting entire populations. "The future must [focus] on the vulnerable, and make boosters or treatments available to them [in order] to protect them," Pollard said.
He also expressed agreement with the prevailing opinion that the omicron variant causes less severe disease than the earlier delta strain. Furthermore, Pollard commented that a lockdown is no longer needed to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
"At some point, society has to open up. When we do open, there will be a period with a bump in infections – which is why winter is probably not the best time. But that's a decision for the policy makers, not the scientists."
Watch the video below from The Punisher of Truth talking about the COVID-19 booster shots.
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