The current evidence on Covid-19 vaccines does not appear to support a need for booster shots in the general public right now, according to an international group of vaccine scientists, including some from the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
“Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the scientists write in a new paper, published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet.
The authors of the paper include two senior FDA vaccine leaders, Dr. Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, who will be stepping down in October and November, the FDA announced late last month. No further details were released about their retirements, although they sparked questions about whether the departures would affect the agency’s work.
The FDA and other public health agencies around the world continue to examine evidence on Covid-19 vaccine efficacy and the role booster doses of vaccine might play in improving immunity against the disease.
For the new paper in The Lancet, the scientists note that they reviewed randomized trials and observational studies on Covid-19 vaccines and consistently find that “vaccine efficacy is substantially greater against severe disease than against any infection; in addition, vaccination appears to be substantially protective against severe disease from all the main viral variants.”
The scientists note that there is an opportunity right now to study variant-based boosters before there could be a widespread need for them. But they also argue in their paper that the current Covid-19 vaccine supply could “save more lives” if used in people who are not yet vaccinated than if used as boosters. In early August, the World Health Organization called for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September.
“The limited supply of these vaccines will save the most lives if made available to people who are at appreciable risk of serious disease and have not yet received any vaccine. Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated,” the scientists write. “If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants.”
CNN has reached out to the FDA for comment.