Amid rising calls for booster jabs, Oxford vaccine expert Sir Andrew Pollard has said that regular booster doses every four-six months to fight Covid may not be a sustainable way to prevent Covid infections. Several countries, including the US, UK and India, are rolling out a third dose amid rising cases of Omicron.
"Administering booster vaccines to everyone every six months was 'not sustainable'," Pollard said.
"We can't vaccinate the planet every four-six months. It's not sustainable or affordable. In the future, we need to target the vulnerable," said Pollard. Pollard was the chief investigator of the Oxford Covid vaccine trials and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, which developed AstraZeneca's jab.
Future immunisation drives must target the most vulnerable rather than all adults, recommends Pollard.
"Today, less than 10 per cent of people in low-income families have even had their first dose, so the whole idea of fourth doses globally is just not sensible," Pollard said. "It may be that as science evolves we can work out who the most vulnerable are in populations and target future boosters for them to maintain their protection."
To Britain, which is planning for a second booster, Pollard has advised that it shouldn't start rolling out fourth Covid vaccines until there is more evidence that they are even needed.
It is not clear as to why Omicron is causing more mild disease, noted Pollard. It is also not clear if future versions of Covid will be similarly less severe, he added.
He further opined that updated versions of Covid jabs might be required to manage living with the virus in the future. While the current vaccines are holding up against severe Covid for now, vaccine makers are already working on existent vaccines to strengthen them if required against Omicron.