An expert review of scientific evidence to date has concluded that Covid-19 vaccine booster shots are not needed at this time for the general public, a group of leading U.S. and international scientists said Monday in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet.
The conclusion by scientists, including two senior Food and Drug Administration officials and the World Health Organization, came as studies continue to show the authorized Covid vaccines in the U.S. remain highly effective against severe disease and hospitalization caused by the fast-spreading delta variant.
While Covid vaccine effectiveness against mild disease may wane over time, protection against severe disease may persist, the scientists said. That’s because the body’s immune system is complex, they said and has other defenses besides antibodies that may protect someone from getting seriously sick.
“Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the scientists wrote, adding the wide distribution of boosters is “not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic.”
They acknowledged that booster shots may eventually be needed for the general population if vaccine-induced immunity wanes even further or a new variant emerges that can evade the protection of the shots.
They said there are risks to distributing boosters too soon, including the potential for side effects such as a rare heart inflammation condition known as myocarditis, which is more common after the second dose of mRNA vaccines.
“If unnecessary boosting causes significant adverse reactions, there could be implications for vaccine acceptance that go beyond COVID-19 vaccines,” they wrote.
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