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What people may not need a fourth covid-19 vaccine according to pharmaceutical companies?

With the Omicron variant leading to millions of breakthrough cases, many are wondering if they will need a fourth dose. Who won't need an additional dose?

With the Omicron variant leading to millions of breakthrough cases, many are wondering if they will need a fourth dose. Who won't need an additional dose?

The federal government continues to urge those eligible to get their third "dose" or booster shot, as the best way to protect ones self and family from covid-19. However, with the number of breakthrough cases increasing in the latest wave, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, many are wondering if a fourth dose will be in their future.

Some doctors believe that for those with compromised immune systems, a fourth shot may help them to bolster a possible antibody response. For others, however, a doctor is unlikely to create a better response when compared to that available after three doses.

Immune response after three doses

During a White House press conference with the Covid-19 response team on 21 January, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that at this point the data showed that those who had been booster were far less likely to end up in a emergency room, an urgent care clinic, or to require hospitalization.

More studies are now showing that the booster provides similar protection to that which many had during the Delta wave after receiving two vaccine doses.

Global vaccine inequities

When thinking about a possible fourth shot, some public health experts believe that it would be a waste of resources. Other experts have also said that a much more effective approach would be to distribute vaccines globally to increase the herd immunity and limit the possibilities of more contagious or virulent strains from emerging.

Naor Bar-Zeev, the deputy director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, made this point in an interview with Fast Company, when saying "The endless chasing of boosters in order to increase antibodies and increase marginal relative protection but modest absolute benefit is a waste of resources."

The World Health Organization (WHO) actually called for a suspension of booster shots in 2021 before the Omicron wave, as an attempt to get wealthy countries to stop hoarding vaccines. In August, WHO Director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called out the unjust behavior saying "We’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets ... while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket.”

The White House announced on 26 January that it had shipped more than 400 million vaccine doses shipped to 112 countries. This forms part of a total 1.2 billion doses the nation plans to send abroad.


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