(Trends Wide) — You may need up to three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.
Decreased immunity to vaccines and increased infections due to the delta variant have led wealthy nations to reconsider the definition of “fully vaccinated,” which generally means two injections of COVID-19.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted this on Monday, saying the reinforcements are vital to prevent the pandemic restrictions from being reintroduced. “It’s very clear that getting three doses, getting your booster, is going to become a big deal and it will make your life easier in many ways,” he told a news conference.
Other European nations plan to require the booster doses. By December 15, anyone over 65 will need a third dose to revalidate their vaccination pass in France, President Emmanuel Macron announced last week. In Austria, the full vaccination status expires after nine months of the second dose, which in effect imposes booster doses. In Israel, unless you have received your second dose of the virus vaccine in the past six months, a third dose is now needed to be eligible for a green pass, which allows entry to gyms, restaurants and other venues.
Global health experts fear that reliance on boosters will affect the supply of initial doses in low-income countries, where only 4.6% have received an injection. The director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was “a scandal” that six times more booster doses were administered daily around the world than the primary doses in low-income countries.
“There is no point in giving boosters to healthy adults, or vaccinating children, when health workers, the elderly and other high-risk groups around the world are still waiting for their first dose,” he warned last Friday.
Vaccine supplies are being prioritized for wealthy nations, which have been at the forefront of the queue by paying higher prices to pharmaceutical companies, Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy adviser, told a parliamentary group from the UK on the coronavirus on Tuesday. “If you look at low-income countries as a whole, less than 1% of the total vaccine supply has been delivered to the poorest countries, many of which are in Africa,” he added.
It is also a gamble for rich nations to rely on vaccines in a pandemic, Dr David Nabarro, WHO’s special envoy on Covid-19, told UK lawmakers. “It has never been done before and it would really be an inappropriate public health strategy to do so,” he said. With so much to learn about the virus, the use of vaccines is the main weapon against COVID-19 and could lead to new variants, Nabarro warned.
What needs to be done is a “combined approach” of masks and other health interventions, “which is to do everything possible to train people to avoid being infected by the pathogen,” he said.