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The ethics of a third COVID vaccine dose

Pfizer says they are seeing declining immunity to coronavirus in those who have received its two shots.

MEMORY POLICY – Pfizer announced Thursday that it sees declining immunity to its vaccine and is working to develop a third dose.

But science has not spoken yet.

So what do we make of this information?


9 still remains shrouded in mystery, but after more than a year of life with it, we know that some things are safe, according to University of Minnesota bioethics professor Dr. Jennifer Needle.

“I think we should not look at COVID differently because I do not think COVID will disappear,” said Dr. Needle. “It’s not polio. It will not be off the Earth. Especially when we have 30% of the population choosing not to be vaccinated.”

“So what we do not yet know about COVID is how long our immunity to the vaccine lasts,” Needle added.

That was until Thursday. Pfizer announced that they see immunity to coronavirus waning in those who have received the two shots. They added that a third shot may be needed – a booster.

“It’s not uncommon for vaccines to require boosters at different periods, because what a vaccine does is that it improves your immune system to be able to respond to the virus it sees,” Needle said. “So over time, if your body is not exposed to it, it is less able to crack over time.”

But the fact that this information came from Pfizer first and not from any of the health officials … well …

“We are all aware that there is likely to be some declining immunity as far as those who have received either Pfizer or Moderna are concerned, but I think it may be – a little ahead of science, as far as it is concerned. too early to convince the public that the vaccines themselves are no longer valid, ”Needle said.

In fact, the CDC and the FDA sent a joint statement:

“The United States is fortunate to have highly effective vaccines that are widely available to those aged 12 and over. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from serious illness and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta. People who have not been vaccinated remain at risk. Almost all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are among those who have not been vaccinated. We urge Americans who have not yet been vaccinated to be vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their community.

Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this point. The FDA, CDC and NIH are involved in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster may be needed. This process takes into account laboratory data, clinical trial data and cohort data – which may include data from specific pharmaceutical companies, but are not solely dependent on this data. We will continue to review new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed. We are prepared for booster doses if and when science shows they are necessary. “

The World Health Organization also reiterated similar sentiments in a statement.

“We do not know if booster vaccines are needed to maintain COVID-19 protection until further data is collected, but the issue is under consideration by researchers.

Clinical trials with these vaccines began only a year ago and rollout across populations even more recently. Therefore, limited data are available on how long the protection against current doses lasts and whether an additional booster dose would be beneficial and for whom. “

“I think whenever you talk about Big Pharma and their quest to help the public understand the need for a drug, you have to acknowledge that they have conflicts of interest,” Needle explained. “In that they provide a service that is in the public health, but they make a profit on it, so I really think that in this COVID space right now we really have to put our energy into listening to the best researchers, medical professionals and senior public health officials. “


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