Scientists have discovered clues that leading COVID-19 vaccines may offer long-lasting protection that could diminish the need for regular booster shots. That said, they cautioned that more research is required to confirm this and that virus mutations are still a cause for concern.
Critical studies are underway and evidence is pointing to the fact that immunity from vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer does not depend solely on antibodies that reduce over time. Instead, the body develops overlapping layers of protection that help serve as a backup.
Moderna and Pfizer have fueled questions about booster shots by estimating that people may require yearly shots, just like annual flu vaccinations, and that they are currently working to have some ready by fall. However, vaccine companies do not decide when booster shots will get used – that is up to the health authority in each country.
Other experts have weighed in on this and said booster shots may only be required once every few years. Dr. Paul Offit, who works as a vaccine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said, “I would be surprised if we actually needed a yearly booster shot.”
John Wherry, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, said “I’m pretty optimistic. I wouldn’t rule out the need for boosters, but the immune response so far looks actually quite impressive.”
Antibodies that start forming after getting both COVID-19 vaccine doses or natural infection start to lower naturally, but there is evidence that those levels continue to remain strong for a number of months after one’s mRNA vaccination. For now, these vaccines also seem to be effective against troublesome virus mutants.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, told a Senate Subcommittee in the recent past that vaccine protection is not infinite. “I would imagine we will need, at some time, a booster,” Fauci said. “What we’re figuring out right now is what that interval is going to be.”