Pfizer and BioNTech plan to request emergency authorization from the FDA for a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the third shot within six to twelve months of initial vaccination may dramatically boost immunity.
The Delta variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID-19, has raised further questioning about this third dose. While the vaccine has recently been proven to protect against this aggressive strain, the rapid growth in cases of coronavirus across the nation has caused concern among health officials.
While the primary two doses are highly sufficient in creating the antibodies necessary to protect individuals from COVID and its many variants, a third shot may offer additional protection.
Studies are currently ongoing to determine if a third dose is needed.
As Dr. Michael Dolsten explains, antibodies needed to fight the virus generally decline over time – which is why boosters are sometimes needed – and a third dose could cause antibody levels to jump 5 to 10-fold.
In the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, antibody levels begin to lessen between six to twelve months after the initial vaccination.
The CDC and FDA, however, have released a joint statement stating, “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.”
The remaining concern is the low percentage of the U.S. population fully vaccinated. Only 48 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and unvaccinated individuals are at a significantly higher risk for the Delta strain.
Researchers in France determined those with only the first dose of the vaccine “barely inhibited” the delta variant, while those who received both doses had immunity strong enough to neutralize the strain.
Pfizer and BioNTech will officially ask for emergency authorization in August.