An expert scientific review of all vaccine data to date concluded that COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are not necessary for the general public at this time, a group of leading U.S. and international scientists said Monday in The Lancet.
The scientists, which include senior Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials and World Health Organization (WHO) officials, said that current research demonstrates that U.S. authorized COVID vaccine remain highly effective against severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the highly contagious Delta variant.
The review noted that vaccine effectiveness from both mRNA based shots developed by Pfizer
"Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for [booster shots] in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high," the review's authors wrote. The scientist also argued that widespread distribution of COVID vaccine boosters is "not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic."
The review comes a week before the Biden administration plans to begin offering COVID vaccine booster shots to the general public, with the White House calling for a third dose eight months after the second shot of either mRNA-based vaccine. The federal government's plans followed multiple Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies that showed the vaccines' protection against infection and mild disease diminishing after several months.
However, The Lancet review's authors said there are risks to boosting the general public too soon, especially since mRNA vaccines are linked to side effects like the rare heart inflammation condition myocarditis, which occurs more often after the second vaccine dose. The scientists wrote that adverse side effects caused by unnecessary boosting could lead to more vaccine hesitancy and avoidance amongst the public, which in turn can greatly impact the nation's pandemic response.
Still, the authors acknowledged that booster shots may eventually be necessary for the general public is immunity begins to wane even further overtime or a new vaccine-resistant variant emerges.