As covid-19 vaccination advances around the world and people are excited at the prospect of resuming their pre-pandemic habits, a cloud of doubt hangs over us. We still don’t know how long each of the more than ten vaccines already in use will ensure immunity.
With the same willingness to develop vaccines against the Sars-CoV-2 virus, many scientists are concentrated on research and testing data analyses. Many of them, studying booster doses.
We know that the immunization process is far from an exact science with 100% efficacy guaranteed. Even more with newly developed formulations. Is it possible that, over time, the immune system loses the ability to react to the covid-19 virus or that mutations of the virus make it unrecognizable leaving the body defenseless? Yes, these are real possibilities.
The main question seems to be whether we should wait to assess in case there is a fall in antibody rates, or people get reinfected, or how the organism (and why not the virus) will react over time responding to failures as they arise or take a step ahead in the administration of reinforcements.
Additional dose or a combination of formulations
It is a complex issue. Without historical data, there is no way to predict the long-term efficacy of vaccines or how the disease will change. It all comes down to analysis between risks and benefits, including the fact that a booster dose campaign will inevitably arouse mistrust and reactions at a time when there is great polarization in various parts of the world.
In our favor is the fact that in the last eighteen months, millions of Sars-CoV-2 genomes have been sequenced, enabling us to monitor the genetic changes of the virus, and scientists are monitoring the vaccinated population to detect possible falls in immune protection against the virus. This makes it possible to act quickly as soon as the first warning signs light up.
Some companies and researchers are testing alternatives, such as an additional dose of vaccines already in use, to assess the immune system reaction. Others adopt a combination of vaccines with different formulations. These hybrid inoculations may even have better results, as with HIV, Ebola, and tuberculosis vaccines. Distributed in succession, different types of anti-covid-19 injections could, in theory, build a stronger response offering greater protection in the case of variants.
We are not faced with easy or logical decisions, mainly because they involve saving lives. The only certainty is that the best thing for all of us is to have at least one dose of vaccine for every person in the world.