Pharma & drug development

The ethics of vaccine boosters

With the huge variance in Covid-19 vaccine rollouts globally, what are the ethics of promoting third booster shots in the world’s wealthiest countries? Abi Millar investigates the balance of evidence around Covid-19 booster vaccine campaigns and their implications for the equitable distribution of life-saving vaccines. 

As we head towards the winter, countries around the world are nervously eyeing their rates of Covid-19. If rates were to spike again, the double whammy of Covid-19 and seasonal flu could be enough to overwhelm health systems.

It’s for that reason that many developed countries, not least the UK, the US and several EU member states, have rolled out a booster vaccination programme.

As of mid-October, NHS England had given out nearly two million Covid booster jabs, offering them to more vulnerable groups who received their second dose at least six months ago. Israel is going one step further, offering boosters to vaccinated people as young as 12.

The thinking behind the booster campaigns is clear – a third dose of vaccination provides an extra defence against Covid-19, at a time when protection might be starting to wane. In one Israeli study, older people who had been jabbed more than five months previously had triple the risk of catching Covid, compared to those who had been vaccinated more recently.

Read the rest of this article in the November 2021 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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