Home Letters Conventional wisdom and scientific data demand COVID-19 booster doses
It is not nice reading that “Many persons remain vulnerable (as they are still) without (the) COVID-19 booster shot. This was the word from Dr Frank Anthony, Minister of Health. For me, it is quite mind-boggling that such a situation is still prevailing. I am most worried, and with reasons too.
First, in response to the evolving SARS-CoV-2 virus and variants of concern, leading nations are recommending booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to provide increased protection across their population. For example, as per the Canadian Immunization Guide (CIG), the intent of a booster dose is to restore protection that may have decreased over time to a level that is no longer deemed sufficient in individuals who initially responded adequately to a complete primary vaccine series.
Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine after the primary series are described as booster doses. However, over time, the nomenclature of this additional dose could evolve as the optimal number of doses in a primary series is better understood. Evidence is emerging all the time that vaccine effectiveness against infection and COVID-19 disease decreases with time, and the effectiveness of currently authorised COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant and sub-variants is decreased. Therefore, booster doses are recommended for eligible individuals, to obtain stronger protection.
So, my question is: What are we waiting for? Another chaotic scenario, wherein people are scrambling for their lives? We need to wake up and respond positively to the overwhelming factors that demand the booster doses.
Secondly, we need to realise the evidence on the risk of myocarditis/pericarditis after a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine is limited, but appears to be lower than the already rare risk after the second dose of the primary series, but higher than after the first dose. So, my question yet again is: Why is there stubbornness and hesitancy?
The concerned Health Minister is advising that many persons still remain at high risk of COVID-19 if they have not taken the booster shot. This is exactly what I have just pointed out, and I did not appeal to local information or sentiments. When they are infected, there is a great possibility of developing a severe form of the novel coronavirus, and hence hospitalisation or death. I add, too, that if it becomes widespread at any time, the healthcare system would be unnecessarily taxed, and this can be pre-empted by simply adhering to common sense and scientific data that demand a positive response.
I read that, so far, about 70,000 persons have returned for their booster shots. The ‘but’ is that “Unfortunately, a lot of people who remain vulnerable to COVID, who can end up with a severe form of COVID, many of them have not come back for their booster doses.” This is coming from the Minister of Health himself, Dr Frank Anthony. He added that this is most unfortunate, since a percentage of those persons, if they get infected with COVID, can end up in the hospital; and in some cases, some of those persons may die.
Editor, to reinforce this call to get the booster doses, I point out that there is a direct link in the high number of daily cases to the new Omicron subvariants that are circulating, specifically the BA.5, and reinfection.
Another worrying trend is that older persons and those with comorbid conditions are coming into the hospitals, as they are the more susceptible group.
Let me close with the sombre words from the Ministry of Health: “That’s one of the challenges we have. A lot of persons are getting reinfected…There are persons, believe it or not, who still have not taken vaccines. Now, while we’re seeing a few cases like that, we also have persons who took vaccines, but the last dose was probably more than a year ago. If you want to be up to date with protection against COVID-19, every six months you would have to take a booster.” Hence my plea: “Get the booster doses ASAP.”