Woman in a mask holding up a syringe.

Pfizer Developing a Vaccine Booster Shot & New Vaccine as Delta Variant Spreads

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Pfizer and BioNTech are going after the Delta variant in an announcement Thursday, according to CNBC. Their intention is to develop a COVID-19 booster shot aimed at sustaining high immunity levels longterm, as well as—as a backup plan—a whole new vaccine specifically aimed at the highly transmissible Delta variant that is raising concerns around the world (over 100 countries, according to The New York Times) and that is already the dominant form spreading in the United States.

A third dose of the vaccine, colloquially referred to as a booster shot, would be given to increase the chances of the body having a high level of antibodies to fight the original variety and its variants, at which the current vaccines are already effective. And according to The New York Times, both companies claim that the booster shot is set to increase potency against variants by five to tenfold.

They also claim that the effectiveness of the vaccine declines six months after immunization, making the study and implementation of boosters shots something that is essential, especially in the face of the more contagious Delta variant. The only problem with all of this is that their data is neither published or peer-reviewed yet. Pfizer and BioNTech are set to submit their findings to the FDA and are already experiencing pushback from those that claim that booster shots are unnecessary.

Dr. Céline Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, told The New York Times, “There’s really no indication for a third booster or a third dose of an mRNA vaccine, given the variants that we have circulating at this time.” She then directly questioned whether we’ll ever need booster shots in the first place, even as variants keep popping up all over the world.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially said that “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” and the current vaccines are effective even against the current variants, but they’re still looking at data, as it becomes available, about whether a booster shot will be needed to make up for a decline in immunity over the long term, saying in a statement, “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

The companies, meanwhile, said in a statement that pushback flies in the face of “real-world evidence” by the Israel Ministry of Health, who claim they’ve seen evidence that the effectiveness of the vaccine declines six months after getting the vaccine in the first place.

With counties like Los Angeles seeing “exponential growth” when it comes to the COVID-19 Delta variant, it’s worrying that we’re still trying to figure out the necessity of boosters. All we can hope is that more research occurs that breaks down the Delta variant before more cases start occurring throughout the United States and world. And as someone who had COVID-19, I hope they figure this out fast. No way do I want the Delta variant to go round 2 with when round 1 was enough and many are still not getting vaccinated in the first place.

(image: ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP via Getty)

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Author
Lyra Hale
Lyra (She/Her) is a queer Latinx writer who stans badass women in movies, TV shows, and books. She loves crafting, tostones, and speculating all over queer media. And when not writing she's scrolling through TikTok or rebuilding her book collection.