WASHINGTON (TND) — An agency of the European Union tasked with regulating drugs warned this week that repeated booster shots are not a sustainable long-term plan.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) held a news conference Tuesday where the group’s head of vaccine strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said a second booster, or fourth shot, “could be considered as part of a contingency plan” but “repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy.”
The message comes as nations around the globe begin to consider offering second booster shots to quell surging infections spurred on by the omicron variant, according to Bloomberg.
We are rather concerned about a strategy that entangles repeated vaccination within a short term,” Cavaleri indicated. “We cannot really continuously give the booster dose every three to four months.
Cavaleri pointed out that getting a booster every four months could potentially result in diminishing someone’s immune response. “We should be careful in not overloading the immune system with repeated immunization,” he said.
Cavaleri noted that “if we want to move towards a scenario of endemicity” then it would be best to begin a plan to administer boosters that are more spaced out and “synchronized with the arrival of the cold season in each of the hemispheres.”
During the news conference, Cavaleri added that it would be important to have “a good discussion around the choice of the composition of the vaccine to make sure that indeed we have a strategy that is not just reactive ... and try to come up with an approach that will be suitable in order to prevent future variants that in any case will emerge."
The agency said it would take three to four months to approve a new vaccine against a specific variant, meaning it wouldn’t be until April “at the very least” that a vaccine specific to omicron could be approved. The group said it was in communication with drug manufacturers in case there was a need for an updated vaccine, but pointed out that such an update would require global coordination.
The EU regulator also pointed out the omicron variant has impacted authorized treatments for COVID-19, including certain monoclonal antibodies. But Cavaleri indicated certain antivirals, such as Paxlovid and Remdesivir, have maintained efficacy against it, and "can provide an additional tool to limit the burden of disease associated with this variant.”