Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Sha'ban 28, 1444 H
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Wait a while... for the booster dose!

Everyone has recently noticed how corona cases (Covid-19) have started falling, as well as the cases of hospitalisations and this is true, reflecting the measures that the government has taken and is still taking to reduce the rise in coronavirus cases. Undoubtedly, now that we have more clarity, we can think about whether there are individuals who need booster doses of the corona vaccine, yet more questions loom on the horizon: When exactly should these people get those doses? Is it better to load additional antibodies as quickly as possible, or should people wait until rates of corona cases start to rise again?

Let me start with a simple start and say: If you are already eligible for a third dose, because you are immune-compromised or weakened as a result of related diseases, you can get it! Especially since for many people with weakened immunity, for example, the first or second dose may not trigger a strong enough response in the body to provide lasting protection.

In fact, most people’s antibody levels peak a few weeks after the initial coronavirus vaccinations. The problem is that (a few weeks) just an average rate. What I mean here is that different people develop antibodies at different rates. In general, healthy young adults’ immune systems work quickly and can begin to approach peak antibody levels in as little as seven days. While older adults or those with weakened immune systems can take weeks longer.

In addition, we must be realistic. Predicting when, for example, corona will be at its peak, if this is repeated, requires predicting when the spread in any society will be at its highest levels, which is almost impossible to do with any accuracy. Not to mention that we will likely see another increase in the coming months, but determining the exact week or month in which cases will peak in a particular place is not possible!

Most importantly, at the moment we do not have a consistent seasonal pattern for another wave for instance, because all the increases we have seen have been shaped by behaviours such as the use of masks and physical or social distancing.

At end, the spread of the virus in any region may be more important than, if I may say so, the details of your personal vaccination schedule. While everyone else is waiting, vaccine makers can update and develop vaccines to provide better protection against Delta strain for instance and set up trials to collect better data on how their original doses and boosters perform. Probably here I think it’s important not to just say, should I get a booster dose or not? But instead, we wonder and say is it better to get a booster vaccine now or save the chance for later?

The author is a physician, medical innovator and writer

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