Home / Science / Health /  Is a fourth Covid dose required? Here's what top vaccine manufacturers said
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As the threat from the Omicron variant BA.2 or what scientists are calling 'Omicron Stealth Variant' wreaks havoc in China, as the largest outbreak in two years occur, top executives of anti-Covid vaccine makers- Pfizer and Moderna are split on the requirement of a fourth Covid shot.

Many countries have approved a third 'booster dose' or 'precautionary dose' for its citizen, especially the three vulnerable groups. However, a rapidly spreading BA.2 variant seems to be lurking in China, just as global lockdowns were ending.

The two executives have agreed that the deadly novel coronavirus is here to stay.

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in a CBS interview on Sunday that protection from three shots will wane and a fourth dose is needed “right now".

Meanwhile, Moderna Inc. President Stephen Hoge said a second booster is probably only necessary for older people or those who are immunocompromised, with the rest of the public able to be more selective about receiving the shot, Business Insider reported.

To recap, a fourth dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was insufficient to prevent infection with Omicron, though it gave a partial defense against the strain, according to preliminary data from a trial in Israel released in January. The country, along with South Korea, is one of the few to be giving fourth doses and so far only for the most vulnerable.

Anti-Covid vaccine makers also needs to consider that there is a higher probability of more variants emerging as the virus mutates.

These statements come as many countries are grappling with balancing living with Covid-19, dealing with a virus-weary or sometimes vaccine-hesitant public, and trying to thwart surges in severe cases that risk overwhelming health-care resources again. Research suggests booster shots help reduce the consequences of an infection, though some vaccines work better than others in preventing infections caused by the omicron variant.

The split in understanding

Bourla said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week that Pfizer will soon submit data to US regulators on the effects of a fourth dose of its Covid-19 vaccine, and he’s optimistic about developing a vaccine that would target Omicron along with earlier variants.

Moderna is optimistic that a bivalent booster, which can target both Omicron and the original virus strain, could be available this year, according to the Business Insider report. 

While Hoge said young, healthy people may opt out of a booster, he intends to get one annually to protect against long-term effects of the virus.

“Is it necessary? I think that’s a strong word. I think it will provide a benefit to anyone who gets it," he said, referring to boosters. “Whether or not public health continues to recommend it for everybody is a more complicated thing, because not everybody’s wanting to get the first couple ones."

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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