08/31/2021 / By Divina Ramirez
New South Wales (NSW) Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told reporters on Monday that NSW will likely keep periodically vaccinating its residents against COVID-19 for years to come as daily infection numbers hit record-highs. “I can’t see that [COVID-19] is not going to be with us forever,” said Chant, adding that residents will need to get used to receiving booster shots.
“[We] always want to have diseases go, to be totally eliminated,” said Chant. However, that isn’t on the horizon in the near future. Therefore, NSW health authorities would have to vaccinate residents on a regular basis in the long term or until health experts create better vaccines that provide permanent COVID-19 immunity.
Chant’s comments come as the state records its first indigenous COVID-19 death. The man, a resident of Dubbo in east-central NSW, was not vaccinated. He was one of four people to die of COVID-19 on Sunday in NSW.
Chant was probed about the man’s death at Monday’s press conference. She refused to comment on the nature of his death but said COVID-19 cases in Western NSW were worrying health officials due to the “over-representation” of Aboriginal people there and the likelihood of COVID-19 affecting them disproportionately.
“There are very strong vaccination efforts in those local communities,” she added. “I call upon all community leaders to encourage high uptake.”
The NSW government has committed to restoring certain personal freedoms to fully vaccinated residents once the state hits its initial 70 percent double dose target. However, it isn’t clear if these targets will need to be recalibrated once vaccine immunity starts to wane or whether lockdowns will be reinstated before new targets, if any, are met.
In NSW, nearly 70 percent of residents eligible to be vaccinated have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 36 percent are fully vaccinated. Even so, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that reaching 70 or 80 percent double dose targets still won’t guarantee a widespread “freedom day.”
With SARS-CoV-2 mutating into more infectious variants, some experts are encouraging people to take a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a booster shot to increase their protection against the disease.
However, some experts view the need for third doses and booster shots with caution. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said he has seen no evidence to date to suggest a need for additional protection.
That is something the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should have at least had some data on before President Joe Biden’s top health officials recommended a booster COVID-19 shot for all adults beginning September, added Offit. The recommendation would mean a third dose for those that received mRNA vaccines, including the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
“I would be surprised if you needed a yearly booster,” said Offit. To date, that is only done for the flu.
Meanwhile, Geoff Meacham, Bank of America Securities research analyst, and his colleagues said in a recent statement that there remains a lack of evidence that mutated strains of the virus cause more severe infection or avoid vaccine protection against severe infection.
There is also an increasing percentage of the population with some level of acquired immunity, either due to vaccination or infection.
Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) also strongly oppose the call for booster shots. WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminatha said she believes the United States’s booster recommendation will only lead to more variants. “[Perhaps] we’re heading into an even more dire situation.” (Related: Even the WHO says booster shots are unnecessary, but Biden’s White House prefers to listen to Big Pharma: BOOSTER covid shots coming to the USA.)
Vaccines.news has more articles about the push for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
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