COVID-19: What’s the buzz around fourth booster jab?

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Highlights 

  • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated that a fourth COVID-19 booster dose would be necessary to curtail the spread of infections.
  • In the US, individuals will need a third primary shot that will have to be administered at least 28 days after the most recent dose.
  • The news of a fourth jab is also emerging from South Korea and France.

Just as Pfizer submits its fourth COVID-19 booster jab for approval, the pharma giant’s CEO Albert Bourla has stated that the new dose would be necessary to curtail the spread of infections. The announcement comes at a time when the third booster job is available to those above 12 years of age.

While the third injection is largely perceived to be a “good enough” protection against hospitalisations and deaths, Pfizer believes it is not long-lasting and not that good against infections. Thus, the fourth jab comes into the picture, which can help prevent re-infection with the virus.

Moreover, reports of a new strain, dubbed as the ‘Deltacron’ strain, are surfacing in the backdrop. This new variant is said to be a hybrid version of the “Delta” and “Omicron” strains. However, the actual severity of the strain is still not known.

CEO Bourla stated that scientists and researchers are trying to develop a vaccine that prevents against all variants and lasts for at least a year. Through these efforts, there is still a chance that countries can reach some level of normalcy, even as the virus does not completely disappear.

Why is a fourth booster dose of COVID vaccine required?

The COVID-19 virus has directly targeted the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to infections. In the US, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) approved the fourth shot of mRNA vaccine in October for immunocompromised individuals or those suffering from some specific health issues.

However, to get the fourth booster shot, individuals will need a third primary shot which should be administered at least 28 days after the most recent dose. Only after five months of this third primary shot will vulnerable people be able to get a fourth shot in the US.

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Pfizer CEO has clarified that regular vaccination is needed to fully protect and maintain resistance to the virus for diseases such as the flu and influenza virus. This is in stark contrast to vaccines developed for conditions such as polio, which are only needed once. Thus, the new Omicron variant has created the need for a new vaccine, for which another Omicron-specific version of the vaccine is under development.

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Which nations are administering the fourth COVID-19 vaccine?

The news of a fourth shot is also emerging from South Korea, where the fourth dosage is already being administered to a high-risk population. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) stated that those who had already received the third jab and are suffering from immunocompromising diseases are being given the fourth jab.

Similarly, France is offering a fourth jab to people over 80 years of age. The dose is being given to those who had their last jab at least three months ago. Along with this, the country also plans to drop the vaccine pass as a requirement to enter public spaces like cinemas or restaurants.

For now, the fourth jab is not being given to the common public or those who are not high-risk. However, the new dose is largely being administered to protect against the Omicron variant and prevent high-risk individuals from getting hospitalised or reaching more fatal conditions.   

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Bottom line

While the efficiency of the vaccine doses is under scrutiny, the common public has instilled its trust in the medical systems and the skills of experienced researchers. Since the virus mutates based on the individuals’ genes, it seems imperative for scientists to develop all-round vaccines that can help prevent the spread of more than one strain.

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