After over a year of handling and adapting to the changes that the global pandemic has caused, more research has allowed scientists to create different vaccines. As more and more people are getting vaccinated, these companies are working to improve immunity and hopefully attain enough research to combat this disease without the risk of possible long and short-term side effects.
In the past month, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine shot, allowing individuals 16 years and over to get the vaccine and individuals 12 through 15 to get the vaccine in emergency cases. Recently, Moderna has asked the FDA to approve the booster shot for the individuals that got the Moderna vaccine to combat the virus. However, the Pfizer vaccine is still the only company that has been fully approved. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still classified as emergency use for individuals 18 and over.
Now, what does this mean for those individuals? According to the company’s data submitted to the FDA, a third dose of the vaccine will be needed six months after the initial two doses to boost immunity. This new information comes from the Phase 2 study that gave around 350 participants the third dose six months later. The booster dose is 50-micrograms of the mRNA shot, while the original vaccine contains 100 micrograms. The data from this experiment shows that after six months, the “neutralizing antibody titers had waned significantly” before using the booster vaccine. The booster does increase those levels and Moderna believes this shot will allow an increase of protection, especially for adults ages 65 and above.
However, the research conducted by Moderna has not yet been peer-reviewed. Moderna is not the only company that has asked the FDA for a booster authorization. Pfizer-BioNTech has also asked for this authorization, and they are scheduled to meet on Sept. 17. While this booster shot is still in the works, both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended the third dose for immunocompromised individuals and only allowed these individuals to get the booster shot. This will mean that in the near future, more and more people will be asked to get this booster shot if they got the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or are immunocompromised.
With the Delta variant of the virus becoming significantly more dangerous in the past month, Moderna believes that this third dose will allow individuals to fight off the variant as well as increase immunity for any other COVID-19 mutations. Through more research, the reality of getting another shot is becoming clearer.
As hospitals fill up again from the variant, the FDA and the vaccine companies must deal with the waning immunity of the first two doses as well as the possibility of more variants. From social distancing to wearing a mask on a daily basis, the question lies on when society will begin to get the third booster shot. Only time will tell.